Innovators in Rural Community Economic Development
  • |
  • |
  • Community Forests as a Wealth Creation Strategy for Rural Communities

Community Forests as a Wealth Creation Strategy for Rural Communities

Community Forests are forests that are owned and/or managed by and on behalf of communities. They are created and maintained through participatory and collaborative processes and provide multiple benefits that span the seven forms of wealth that are the foundation of a sustainable economy and a resilient community. I was reminded of the important article by M.W. Lyman at all at a recent gathering of community forestry practitioners in Darien, Georgia. The meeting was held to close out the Communities Committee of the Seventh Forest Congress, an entity that lasted for some 20 years.

In their article, M.W. Lyman et al use specific examples from six community forest projects in the Northeastern United States to document the contributions of community forests  to community wealth. Lyman et al show that the benefits of community forests if well conceived and well managed go beyond land conservation to include various streams of revenue, improvements in natural capital, new relationships and networks (social capital), new skills and improved health (individual capital), trails and educational facilties (built capital) and ideas (intellectual capital). and changes in communithy resource allocation decisions (political capital) due to civic engagement.  

I like this article because it is a concrete example of how to use the wealth matrix to recognize opportunities for building multiple forms of wealth at the same time. Community forests are one underutilized mechanism that roots wealth building in place. The article by Lyman at all can be accessed at