The Forest Landowners Association applauds the collaborative approach of the Biden administration’s recently released America the Beautiful Initiative, which outlines the president’s goal to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030.

Through stewardship and sound management, private working forests significantly contribute to conservation of natural resources at scale throughout the United States,said FLA CEO Scott Jones. “We appreciate the administration’s collaboration with forest stakeholders to advance the America the Beautiful Initiative in a way that is voluntary, inclusive, and recognizes the good work of private forest landowners.

The Initiative outlines eight guiding principles which embrace inclusive, voluntary and collaborative approaches, including honoring private property rights. While more information as to how these principles will be implemented must be provided, FLA was encouraged to see them included.

FLA submitted comments in March outlining the importance of private working forests in achieving the bold goals of this conservation initiative. Private working forests play a key role in supplying the nation’s clean air, clean water, and healthy habitat for wildlife. Landowners need strong forest product markets to remain economically viable as caretakers of the forests, and broad access to USDA programs to support their conservation efforts. The initiative recognizes many of FLA’s recommendations and embraces a voluntary, incentive-based approach to achieving conservation impacts at scale.

We also appreciate the administration’s commitment to prioritize landowner needs by including private property rights as a guiding principle for the America the Beautiful Initiative. The preliminary report reads:

Efforts to conserve and restore America’s lands and waters must respect the rights of private property owners. Such efforts must also build trust among all communities and stakeholders, including by recognizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of private landowners and the science-based approaches of fishery managers. President Biden has recognized and honored the leadership role that farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and fishers already play in the conservation of the nation’s lands, waters, and wildlife, and has made clear that his administration will support voluntary stewardship efforts that are already underway across the country’s lands and waters.

As the administration continues to develop the details of the America the Beautiful Initiative, we will continue engaging with leadership to ensure the voices of the private forestry community are heard.