The United States utilizes a broad array of laws, regulations, policy instruments, capacity building programs, and best management practices to enforce and promote legal and sustainable forest management. The diversity of these approaches and their democratic underpinnings are a fundamental characteristic of our governmental structure and forest policy and management in the U.S. The governance of U.S. forest lands is multi-tiered, beginning with federal legislation overseeing all lands of the U.S., followed by state legislation and county and municipal legislation and governance.
U.S. forests cover over 741 million acres. There are three primary forest ownerships in the U.S.: federal, state, and private. Federal and state agencies manage public lands for a multitude of uses, including conservation, production, and recreation. Over 50% of U.S. forestland is owned and managed by more than 10 million private owners, with the top percentage being ‘family and individual’ owned parcels of forest lands averaging less than 10 ha in size.
The U.S. Constitution provides for ownership rights for individuals and companies. These rights are protected by three tiers of property law enforcement in the U.S.: federal, state, and local.