Forests, Agriculture & Environmental Policy

 In recent years there has been heightened concern over the condition of Maine's forests, and serious questions have been raised about their long-term ability to supply timber, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Maine people live in one of the most heavily forested states in the nation as you can find out from many college essays
In many parts of the state, people have lived within the working forest for generations. Maine's woodlands play a pivotal role in defining Maine people's sense of home, their community history, and often their livelihood. The forest is a dominant part of Maine's physical, historical and economic landscapes.

Related Mainewatch Publications:

  • Funding Forest Certification (2001)
  • Families and Forests (1992)
  • Me's Forest Economy (1988)

These reports are in PDF format. To read PDF's you need Acrobat Reader, a free downloadable program. Download Acrobat Reader


Paper industry wages amount to over $790 million annually. The nonpaper secondary wood products industry is, by comparison, much smaller, with wages of approximately $40 million annually. Other forest products sectors include

firewood and maple syrup production. In addition to the manufacture of forest products, Maine's tourism industry also relies on Maine's forested landscapes, with an economic impact which is more difficult to quantify, but is significant nevertheless.

In recent years, Maine has seen a number of initiatives addressing forest sustainability. The Maine Council on Forest Sustainability was appointed by Governor Angus King in 1995 to try to develop criteria, goals, and benchmarks of sustainable forestry for Maine. While the Council was able to complete its work, its recommendations were overtaken by the political upheavals caused by the referendum attempting to ban clearcutting and the competing "Compact for Maine's Forests". While both of these initiatives were turned down by the voters, interest in improving forest practices continues be on the agenda of many in the state.

Third-party certification of sustainable forest practices is one area in which attention has been focused more recently. Some notable successes have taken place in this area, such as the certification by the Seven Islands Land Company of 957,000 acres of forest

holdings in Maine, the largest such certification in the U.S. at the time. Since then, the J.D. Irving company has obtained certification of 500,000 of its Maine forest holdings, and the State of Maine has obtained certification for its 485,000 acres of forestlands.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, Maine has seen an unprecedented increase in land sales by the major industrial forest landowners. While these land sales have created some spectacular conservation acquisitions, such as the Nature Conservancy's purchase of 180,000 acres along the upper St. John River, they have also raised concern about the changing nature of forest land ownership in Maine, and the impacts on local communities.

Controversy and complexity concerning the use and management of Maine's forests can be expected to be around for a long time. As a cornerstone of Maine's economy and a major recreational resource for Maine people, as well as visiting tourists, our forests are a central part of Maine's heritage and future.

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