Future Forest Designed to Propel Thinning to Unprecedented Scale

Sen. Jeff Flake, Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Timber Co. join forces to protect water, create jobs

Phoenix, Arizona | October 12, 2017

The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and U.S. Forest Service have launched a project that is designed to transform the way forests are managed to secure our water, protect communities and enhance wildlife habitat. At the same time, Future Forest will create skilled jobs and attract new investment by creating a reliable flow of wood that support rural economies. 

A press conference will be held on Thursday, October 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the JW Marriot Camelback Golf Club, 7847 N Mockingbird Ln, Scottsdale, AZ 85253. (Corner of Lincoln and Mockingbird). 

Forested mountains are the source of clean water. Frequent, high-severity fires and subsequent floods increasingly threaten our water and communities. Over two million acres are at immediate risk. With continued warming, many of these forests, once lost, will not return. 

Future Forest is about thinking differently and changing the status quo,” says Patrick Graham, Arizona’s Nature Conservancy director. “Working together, we’re going to champion strategic partnerships, deploy innovative technology and introduce new business practices to modernize the way we restore forest health.” 

A record number of fires that take an ever-increasing amount of the Forest Service budget, and the focus on restoration of forests with low-value timber impede the agency's abilities to accelerate the pace of management. "We're in a new era that demands efficiency and an accelerated response. Arizona water supplies and communities are at risk. Rather than painting individual trees to remove, we now use tablet technology to digitally map the forest and guide operators where to harvest. We are getting the work done faster and cheaper and we have a digital record that enables us to track progress,” says Cal Joyner, Regional Forester, Southwestern Region, USDA Forest Service. 

To catalyze change, the number of acres thinned each year needs to triple. “Partnerships like this are critical to reach the pace of restoration that Arizona forests desperately require,” says Senator Jeff Flake. “Future Forest’s new technologies and ways of thinking will be a much-needed benefit to wildfire risk reduction in Arizona.”

The Nature Conservancy will work with Campbell Global, which brings more than three decades of experience and leadership to sustainable timberland and natural resource investment management. “We have worked closely with the Conservancy to develop an operating model that is tailored for Northern Arizona, balancing the local economic and environmental considerations,” says Stephen Levesque, Campbell Global, Managing Director of Operations. “This approach strives to reduce project implementation costs while meeting restoration goals.” 

Future Forest will launch with a 20,000-acre thinning project in the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests near Flagstaff this fall.  

The first Future Forest project will become a living lab where a team will document improvements and savings that can then be transferred to other Nature Conservancy chapters, catalyzing change across the West.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Tracey Stone
The Nature Conservancy
(602) 738-1586


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