A new North American Forest Partnership (NAFP) initiative is bringing together people who are passionate about the future of North America’s forests. Members of NAFP—a diverse group of individuals, companies, state agencies, the US Forest Service, non-profits and professional organizations committed to the management of sustainable, healthy forests—recently launched a first-of-its-kind communications project titled “Walk in the Woods.” The project tells the stories of the men and women who work in the forest sector in the US and Canada, and creates a dialogue about the important work they do as caretakers of precious forest resources.
“We’re inviting those outside our sector to walk in the woods with us and learn about our work as responsible, innovative stewards of North America’s many different forests,” said Will Novy-Hildesley, Executive Director of the NAFP. “Our goal is to engage those passionate about the future of our forests in an ongoing conversation and provide honest answers to the questions we know people have about what we do and why we do it.”
The initiative is founded on research that studied the attitudes and perceptions of North America’s forest resources. Not surprisingly, this research uncovered differences in understanding among the forest sector and the public around key topics such as deforestation, forest management and the sustainability of forest resources.
“We learned that while people care deeply about forests, they often come to a conversation about what happens in them with only part of the story. This notion of a ‘Walk in the Woods’ is a way to explore the ‘why’ behind what happens in the forest and build a broader understanding for the many important roles that forests play in our everyday lives,” said Colin Moseley, Chairman of the Board of the NAFP and chairman of Green Diamond Resource Company. “That’s why it’s critically important that we come together to communicate our work and the social, environmental and economic values that forests provide.”
Walk in the Woods
The NAFP represents a diverse community responsible for stewardship of North America’s forests. As caretakers of one of the world’s most precious natural resources, the goal of Walk in the Woods is to provide the public with straight answers to the questions that pertain to anything related to forestry, forest management and the forest products industry.
To answer these questions, Walk in the Woods will share stories “about forest ecosystems, forest products, forest communities, forest people and keeping forests as forests. About the role trees play in maintaining our health. About water, wildlife, a healthy planet and a healthy economy. And about innovation, partnership, research, responsible management, conservation, and sustainability. A story about the opportunities, challenges and choices landowners and society face in deciding the future of the many different forests in North America.”
Walk in the Woods forest facts and stories are presented in written and video formats, as well as infographics and other imagery, and the website also includes engaging photography to accompany the content. Topics include:
- A section devoted to information about different forest types, deforestation around the world and how forest management in North America prevents this from happening, the importance of forests for water filtration and clean streams and rivers, and much more.
- A story about how Andrew Devries, who has a lifelong passion for studying the forest, put his passion into action to help a Canadian family. Through a partnership between the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Habitat for Humanity, Andrew helped to construct a home for a young indigenous family in Manitoba.
- A video titled “Lessons from a Sustainable Biomaterials Student” featuring Heather Wise, a student at the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment.
- An in-depth look at how the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin completed a biomass-fueled district combined heat and power (CHP) project in an attempt to create energy independence, and reduce its carbon footprint and air emissions.
Via this initiative, NAFP is proactively addressing a very important issue facing the global forest products industry, as well as the future of forestry in general. Public sensitivity to perceived environmental threats and destruction seems to become more heightened by the day. While this is nothing new to the forest industry, active participation in the public conversation is the best way to engage those people who are reacting to the paranoia so prevalent in the media, or those simply unfamiliar with the vital importance of forest management.
We wrote about this topic last summer by noting that opponents of the forest products industry tend to rely on a simplistic, emotional appeal in their own communications: images of clear cuts, stacks of delimbed logs and slash piles are the go-to visuals of choice. While these images can be shocking at first glance, especially when taken out of context by a general public that is largely uninformed in forestry best practices, they only tell a fraction of the story.
It is the goal of NAFP—and its members representing the broad diversity of the forest industry—to ensure that the entire story be told.