Conservationists, scientists, industry representatives, community leaders and the U.S. Forest Service have signed an historic agreement to restore ponderosa pine forests in four national forests in northern Arizona. More than 20 organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Four Forest Restoration Initiative Collaborative Stakeholder Group and the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto National Forests.
"The MOU represents many long hours, days and months of work and collaboration between the Forest Service and stakeholders who are vested in restoring Arizona forests,” said Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart. “The signing of this document illustrates how different people and organizations with varying viewpoints can come together and work toward an extremely important and common goal."
The MOU is designed to accelerate large-scale ecological restoration across 2.4 million acres of the Mogollon Rim to support resilient, diverse stands of trees that sustain native biodiversity; safely re-establish natural fire regimes; reduce fire threats to communities; create sustainable forest industries that strengthen local economies while conserving natural resources and aesthetic values; and engage the public through increased public outreach, education and support for this initiative.
“The clock is ticking for Arizona’s forests. Failure to make progress puts communities at risk and keeps people from new, much-needed jobs,” said Patrick Graham, director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “The bold plan and broad groups of supporters for this agreement is the way things will get done in the future, especially because there are going to be far fewer public dollars to support this kind of work. We are very excited about helping turn this into action on the ground to benefit people and nature.”
The MOU calls for the U.S. Forest Service and Four Forest Restoration Initiative Collaborative Stakeholder Group to work together through the process of framing the issues, developing a range of treatments, analyzing impacts and identifying preferred actions. Stakeholders and the Forest Service will use adaptive management practices that allow them to learn while managing to be more adept at responding to uncertainty and change.
Learn more about the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.