Family Forest Blog

One Year Later: White Oak Initiative Puts Plan to Action

Lesley Webb

November 16, 2022

A group of people standing outside and posing for a group photo in front of a large oak tree.

The White Oak Initiative steering committee in September 2022. Photo courtesy of the White Oak Initiative.

The White Oak Initiative, an organization founded by the University of Kentucky, the DendriFund and the American Forest Foundation, released its foundational report, “Restoring Sustainability for White Oak and Upland Oak Communities: An Assessment and Conservation Plan,” on November 16, 2021. Without swift intervention today, the report stated, the American white oak population would begin to decline significantly within the next 10 to 15 years, with more extreme declines over the next several decades.

There is good news: several states are carrying out successful on-the-ground projects designed for long-term oak sustainability.

The report’s release raised visibility for the organization, increased awareness about the state of America’s white oak forests and rallied support among existing partners. But has any progress been made on the ground? One year later, are America’s white oak forests less at risk?

There is good news: several states are carrying out successful on-the-ground projects designed for long-term oak sustainability. This is in part due to funds provided by the U.S. Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration Program, which are awarded yearly through the White Oak Initiative to organizations working toward the Initiative's 10-year and 50-year goals.


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is conducting outreach, workshops and webinars aimed at educating Maryland landowners about sustainable oak management. In addition, they started a volunteer acorn collection group to boost the number of available white oak seedlings in the state. They are also focused on training foresters in oak management techniques. Spring planting in 2021 and 2022 covered 23 acres of land, and new forest management plans, including practices aimed at oak sustainability, have been written for seven properties.


The University of Missouri Extension is helping spread the word about sustainable oak management to loggers, consulting foresters and agency foresters throughout Missouri. Working from the White Oak Initiative’s assessment and conservation plan, they are creating and distributing educational materials such as brochures. In addition, they are communicating with private landowners through in-person events like the Missouri Tree Farm Conference.


A project managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is focusing on expanding tools for supporting and demonstrating on-the-ground oak management practices across Ohio. In part, this involves improvements and enhancements to a demonstration site located at Vinton Furnace State Forest where they are conducting in-person and virtual trainings around practices that benefit white and upland oak.


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is establishing a statewide white oak management group including agencies and organizations such as the Michigan Tree Farm Committee, Michigan State University Extension and the Barry Conservation District. The group will focus on developing materials, hosting events and training professional foresters with the end goal of helping private landowners manage for white and upland oak forests.

Looking Ahead

To restore the long-term sustainability of America’s white oak forests, and maintain the economic, social and environmental benefits they provide, we need active, cross-boundary collaboration and support from industry, policymakers, landowners and more.

Today, the White Oak Initiative is working with partners to ensure that private landowners have the knowledge and opportunities they need to properly manage their oak forests. On public lands, the Initiative is helping provide demonstration areas to highlight recommended oak management techniques. Other activities include research, the development of market based solutions, advocacy and outreach.

Thank you to our partners for leading these critical projects. One year ago, the White Oak Initiative stated that reversing the decline of America’s white oak population is possible, but “intervention must begin today.” One year later, we’re glad to see real action and momentum on the ground.

For more information or to get involved, please visit the White Oak Initiative website.

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