When an undertaking is just too big for one person, folks tend to form groups. We’re all familiar with this in a blue collar sense – the concept of a barn raising, say. But the idea that many hands make light work is at the heart of non-profit organizations as well. When people join together to rally around an idea, a point of view, or a mission, their collective strength can help change the status quo.
There are many groups that are devoted to the cause of forest stewardship in the Northeast, each coming from a slightly different angle. The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association is one of the oldest. It was founded in 1911 to detect forest fires, and over the next 100 years expanded its mission to include conserving working forests for future generations through education, legislative advocacy, outreach, and cooperation. In 1944, the New England Forestry Foundation was formed to raise awareness of over-harvesting on privately owned forestland in the region. Dr. Svend Heiberg’s work in silviculture led to community forums on the subject – a seed that germinated into the New York Forestland Owners Association in 1963. The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine was incorporated in 1975, and meetings were held right in the members’ forests so that they could learn from each other first-hand. Around the same time, the Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association was formed. Their 300 forestland owners manage about 20,000 acres. Vermont Woodlands Association currently has 1,064 members who manage more than 350,700 acres of forestland.
Northern Woodlands is an ideological partner with all of these groups. Many of them offer the magazine to their members as an educational tool.
We were sad to learn that one of our partners, Tug Hill Resources Investment for Tomorrow (THRIFT), is disbanding after 31 years of advocacy. This landowner group, located on the western side of the Adirondacks, was founded to teach landowners about the value of their woodlands – this to counteract the threat from fast-buck developers swaying inexperienced cash-poor/land-rich residents.
THRIFT has been giving Northern Woodlands to its members for many years. They saw it as one way to accomplish their educational goals. When the group decided to close its doors – after making many laudable contributions – the balance of their bank account was entrusted to us to use for our work. No strings, no restrictions, just keep getting the word out, they said.
We gave them our word that we’d do just that.
The threats to the Northern Forest – from development, poor forest practices, the decline of the forest products industry, parcelization, invasive organisms, and unprecedented weather events – can seem overwhelming. Add to this the fact that private landowners, the key stewards of our forests, are aging and transferring their land to a new generation who may not share their stewardship ideals, and one can be forgiven for feeling a little uncertain.
This is why partnership is more crucial than ever. At face value, we’re a non-profit with a staff of five shouting its message into the wind. But with the collective strength of our readers and partners, we’re thousands strong. Small organizations, linked together through common purpose, have the power to achieve something large and lasting.