Two major foundations have donated more than $12 million for the protection of private forest lands throughout northern New England and New York. This contribution represents the largest single private commitment to forest conservation in the region.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation provided more than $10 million and the Surdna Foundation added another $2 million to capitalize the Northern Forest Protection Fund. The goal of the fund is to provide multiple public benefits by protecting working forests that produce wood products, creating nature preserves, and preserving vital habitat for wildlife and plants. Specifically, the fund will encourage high standards of forest management, increase public access, and promote land transfers and easements. Many of the projects will rely on voluntary efforts to manage forests in a sustainable manner.
The Northern Forest covers 26 million acres, 85 percent of which are private land used for producing lumber, paper, and other wood products. The fund wants to maintain wood production and support the communities that are economically dependent on working forests. At the same time, it will provide assistance to private owners in evaluating their land management practices for long-term sustainability.
Many forest lands in the area are for sale and monies from the fund will be used to buy some of these lands. Proposed projects must be approved by the advisory board and all monies spent from the fund must be matched four to one from other sources. Through mixed uses the newly formed fund intends to provide economic, ecological, and recreational benefits on hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land.