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Robert Bonnie on financial incentives for preserving forests

A land conservationist says that good stewardship by private forest landowners in the U.S. can be a heroic effort, because it can require the rejection of sometimes lucrative financial offers.

Good stewardship by private forest landowners in the U.S. can be a heroic effort since it can require the rejection of sometimes lucrative financial offers. EarthSky spoke with Robert Bonnie, vice president of land conservation and wildlife at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said that outside Washington D.C., developers will pay up to $30,000 per acre of forested land. Harvesting timber on that same acre yields only $1,000 – $5,000 each year.

Robert Bonnie: If you’re a landowner, that’s a big gap between continuing to practice forestry, or to sell your land for development. And that’s the fundamental challenge.

Bonnie said that financial incentives could make it more viable for landowners to preserve their land.

Robert Bonnie: Americans care deeply about wildlife. They care deeply about protecting the great American landscape. So much of that landscape, in fact about three-fourths of it, is owned by private landowners. And therefore what landowners do with their land is vitally important to that core American value.

Forestry education helps, too.

Robert Bonnie: For so many species, we need landowners to go out and practice good stewardship, to do more than put a fence around their land.

Good stewardship might mean planting certain kind of trees, or the use of controlled fires to encourage healthy forest renewal.

Our thanks today to the American Forest Foundation, leading the way in conservation and education.

Our thanks to:
Robert Bonnie
Vice President
Land Conservation and Wildlife
Environmental Defense Fund
Washington, D.C.

Lindsay Patterson

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