• Timber/Forestry Law Overview

    Timber Forestry LawThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Service regulates national forest lands. This service attempts to help sustain the nation’s forests and protect the land and surrounding communities for wild forest fires. Whether the land is owned federally or privately, forestry attorneys can be needed for conflicts over forestland. Forestry law encompasses all legal problems that affect the forest. For this reason timber law is usually included in forestry law. A large proportion of the world’s timber is harvested, processed and traded in violation of national forestry laws, which can have long reaching environmental and economic consequences. Illegal logging can result in loss of biodiversity and habitats, political instability, and market distortions. Forestry laws are put in place to prevent this.Forestry attorneys will advise forest owners on matters of timber taxation, forest succession planning, and timber trespass actions. If there is a boundary line dispute between two forest owners, a forestry lawyer is best suited to step in. Forestry attorneys are also best suited to manage timber warranty issues, timber sale contract matters, carbon credits, oil and gas leases, and any other matters regarding the timber. Forestry law, however, does not just concern timber.

    Conflicts are inherent in forest management for the forestry attorney must balance multiple parties’ concerns at once in order to find the best solution. Many different individuals have a stake in the forest including local forest users, different government agencies, environmental groups, civil society, and private owners. Forest attorneys have to balance these competing interest and multiple objectives in order to do their jobs well.

    Currently forestry attorneys work for a wide variety of goals such as sustainable forest management plans, securing forest ownership rights, reforming forest tenure systems, and protecting habitats and threatened species in the forests. Forestry lawyers work to strengthen law enforcement in this area, increase research on forest resources, and balance environmental concerns with increased demand for forest products. They attempt to improve forest monitoring and try to make forest laws and policies rational, equitable to all parties and clear. They also coordinate conservation efforts with environmental clients and help plan wild land fire management with forest owners. They can be involved in operations, research, maintaining, restoring and improving the health of the forest. Forestry lawyers can help develop plans to minimize the spread of invasive plants and animals and try to lessen the damages caused by native pests and diseases.

    Clear and equitable forest laws are necessary to best protect these resources. Forests produce many products and services. Wood energy is the most important renewable energy, providing over 9% of the global total energy supply. It is as important as all other renewable energy sources together. Environmentally sound harvesting is critical to maintaining a sustainable forest and forest industries (such as pulp, paper, and wood products) are a major component of economic development worldwide). In addition to the traditionally thought of forest products, non-wood forest products such as edible insects and medicinal plants have been gaining in popularity as well.

    Typical forestry legislation that the forestry attorney must be aware of include the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the Wilderness Act.
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