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Our Stewardship Philosophy


What is forest stewardship in the southern Appalachians?

Sustainable forest stewardship is the management and use of forest lands in a way and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality, and potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic, and social functions at varying scales, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems (adopted from FAO).

Ecological Forest Stewardship:

Ecological stewardship employs management strategies that improve or maintain forest health while attempting to mitigate against current and future forest stresses. Typical goals include maintaining or restoring multiple age classes of diverse and naturally occurring forest communities across the landscape, and improving the vigor and growth rates of selected trees in some stands. Ultimately we wish to create healthier forests that support greater plant diversity and wildlife habitat, and are more resistant to the stresses that will affect our forests in the future.

Social Forest Stewardship:

Appalachian forests have value to all segments of society. These values include clean air, abundant and clean water, productive soils, diverse plant and animal communities, and a sense of place. We use our forest for hunting, hiking, camping, and traditional land uses such as ginseng and ramp collecting. Forest Stewards recognizes all stakeholders and works to include their views and protect their values, particularly on community and publicly owned lands.

Economic Forest Stewardship:

Sustainable forestry means balancing ecological health and societal values with the economic needs of today and tomorrow. Southern Appalachian forests provide abundant resources that have supported traditional rural economies for generations. Forest Stewards recognizes the need to sustainably harvest both timber and non-timber forest products to support employment opportunities throughout the region. Forest Stewards supports using our forest resources to preserve the mountain way of life.


  Yellow Poplar
  Forest Stewards strives to grow larger healthier trees which are absent from most of our forest.
  Ginseng is a potential income source for many landowners.
  Logging truck Loaded
  Loaded logging truck.

2008-2015 Forest Stewards

Western Carolina University, Dept. Geosciences and Natural Resources, Stillwell Bldg. Rm. 331, Cullowhee, NC 28723
Office: 828-227-3388
Peter Bates: 828-227-3914 -