Many people are not aware of the impact that conservation organizations have on their home region or that a lot of these small organizations even exist. As members of those fairly unknown, but hardworking organizations, we want to improve awareness. When approaching this effort, a problem arises; it is often difficult to reach out to people who have no immediate personal connection with conservation groups. Instead, people are more likely to listen to, trust, and learn from neighbors, family members, friends, peers!
Through the Landscape Scale Restoration Program, the United States Forest Service is funding programs that support the management of forest landscapes in ways that are well-informed and increase the positive impact for the public. North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership (NQRLP) is a recipient of this grant and wants to use the funding to reach out to people who have already partaken in forest stewardship or land protection. We specifically want to involve those who would be willing to talk to their friends and neighbors about their experiences. From this, the people who are already involved in forest management can be influential in their communities.
At an event that NQRLP already organized, one landowner peer invited his neighbors over to his woodlot. He and his forester walked everyone around the property and described why they had made certain decisions in their last cut. During the two hours on this sunny day, his neighbors enthusiastically joined the conversation.
After events like this, the peers (neighbors in this instance) can feel more comfortable in taking the next step to decide the future of their own properties. Our goal is to build a peer network that is strong, informed, and motivated for action in planned land management.
Peer networks can promote conversation and understanding amongst community members. Once this occurs, forest conservation and management can become topics that are more at the forefront of people’s minds. This process can make changes in the privately owned landscape that is very prevalent here in Massachusetts. People trust in others who can speak to them from a similar viewpoint. If we can encourage a few landowners to spread their knowledge to their peers, we can make great strides in having the community of landowners become more inspired for forest stewardship.
To learn more about the North Quabbin Regional Landscape Partnership, visit our website at www.nqpartnership.org
For more information about the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Process of the US Forest Service, go to http://www.na.fs.fed.us/rfp/2017/FY17LSRRFPGuidance_FINALv2_20160802.pdf