Achieving a new level of impact.

This summer, our board of directors approved a new strategic plan


for American Forests. While I realize that most strategic plans are

hardly earth shattering stuff, this one is different. Our new plan

continues to sharpen our focus in some very exciting ways.


The new plan establishes American Forests even more firmly as a

conservation organization focused on forests as vital ecosystems that

provide important benefits for the health of the planet and its

inhabitants, While we will continue the critical work of planting

millions of trees each year, our activities will also expand to more

fully encompass issues like water (more that half of our drinking water

comes from forests), wildlife habit, the effects of invasive plants and

insects, managing the impacts of climate change, and caring for the

urban forest ecosystems where most of us live.

We plan to increase our focus on environmental science and forest

ecotogy. This underscores the importance of grounding our work in sound

science, as well as supporting, advocating for, and spotlighting

important research that helps all of us better understand the many roles

forests play in the health of our planet.

One new section of the plan addresses our goals. The goals

described in these five statements will, in effect, become a guide for

all our work, ensuring that our efforts are always focused on what we

believe are the most important outcomes and that our donors’ money

is spent in ways that achieve the maximum impact.


GOAL 1: Threatened forests restored to health.

Today, many forests are in danger Major threats include climate

change, invasive plant species, insects, disease, significant increases

in wildfire, and conversion of forested land to non-forest uses. While

we will be addressing these threats generally, we will also focus on

specific ecosystems that are profoundly threatened right now. For

example, in 2012, we will launch a major campaign to address the

devastation in the forests of the Western Mountains, a result of the

mountain pine beetle and a disease called blister rust. Our work will

include restoring damaged areas, as well as working with partners to

bring attention to the issue and to support research to strengthen

keystone species like white bark pine.


GOAL 2: Healthy and expanding forest cover in both urban and rural


Forest health is ctosely related to the health of the planet. To

this end, we will be planting an additional 25 million trees over the

next five years, adding to the 37 million we have already planted. We

will also expand our efforts in urban forests, working with the U.S.

Forest Service and partners across the country to spotlight cities and

towns that are nurturing and expanding their tree canopy and educating

citizens and policymakers alike about the remarkable benefits of urban

trees and forests.

GOAL 3: High priority for environmental benefits in the management

of public and private forests.

Forests provide a host of services for humans and all other living

things. They produce oxygen, strip pollutants from the air, provide

animal habitat, filter drinking water, and remove CO2 from the

atmosphere. Quite simply, we can’t live without them. Yet forests

are typically valued more for wood and pulp than for the remarkable

environmental benefits they provide when they are cared for and left

standing. Maximizing these environmental benefits will become a key

criterion in our selection of forest restoration projects. We will also

be working with universities to further research related to measuring

and enhancing the environmental benefits of forests and trees.

GOAL 4: Recognition that healthy forests are vital to life.

While most people probably realize that trees are good for the

environment, many do not have a full understanding of just how important

forests are for the health of our planet and for all living things. To

achieve progress toward this goal, we will be ramping up our public

education activities to young people, adults, communities, and

policymakers alike.

GOAL 5: Policymakers address major threats to forests proactively.

Our final goal is to create a climate in which policymakers are not

merely knowledgeable about the threats to our forests but take timely

action to address them. For American Forests, this means mobilizing

like-minded people to take action, educating and communicating with

policymakers, and working collaboratively to evolve practical, tong-term


Taken together, the plan to achieve these Five goals is a bold

declaration of what we stand for and where we are headed. We are glad to

have you with us on this journey.


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