Family Forest Blog

Take a Walk with Us in The Family Forest

Angela Wells

June 1, 2022

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It’s eight o’clock in the evening. Your workday is over, the kids are in bed, and you finally have a minute to do some research on ways you can improve the health of your family’s forestland. Trouble is, you're really not sure where to start. You remember a conversation you had with a group of other landowners about this very topic during a virtual conference last year, and you find yourself wishing there was somewhere you could go again to hear about others’ experiences and get some peer advice on what do next. 

One of the things we at AFF hear consistently from family forest owners is that the most valuable conversations they have are with other forest owners, even before they make the decision to consult a natural resource professional. They wish they could connect more often with landowners like themselves to share ideas and ask questions. Opportunities for those kinds of connections have been limited to in-person or virtual real-time events. We’re changing that with The Family Forest.  

The Family Forest is a virtual community the American Forest Foundation has created to encourage those valuable interactions to happen on a more regular basis. This platform is designed to bring forest and woodland owners and the people who support them into closer proximity, to share advice and resources, and to recognize and celebrate one another. 

This exciting virtual community is open to family forest owners, conservation professionals and people who are invested in the stewardship of family forest lands. It gives members the opportunity to build relationships through the use of various content formats: question forums, polls, threaded conversations, and live events, all in one place and on their terms. Our team of community managers are actively cultivating a safe space for community members to share their experiences and receive information that is timely and credible. 

“The Family Forest will allow us to reach the family forest owner community at a scale that was previously unattainable,” shared Rita Hite, President and CEO of AFF. “To have a positive impact on the planet, like tackling climate change, reducing wildfire risk, or protecting biodiversity, we need to build and support relationships with landowners and the people who serve them, from all walks of life, across broad geographies and over time. The Family Forest holds enormous potential for helping us address that part of our strategy.” 

Conservation professionals and organizations can also use this platform as an additional channel to share resources about forest stewardship to a broader audience.   

A weekly highlight, “Forest Professional Friday,” provides the opportunity for landowners to connect directly with a forester in a question-and-answer segment. The community also features subgroups designed for landowners’ special interests, including: 

  • A Carbon and Climate Hub for those interested in learning more about managing their forest in a way that helps to address climate change.  

  • A Wildlife and Biodiversity group for landowners and professionals to share their stories on promoting habitat and biodiversity on their lands. 

  • More special interest groups to-come to meet community members' interests! 

AFF recently completed 4 weeks of testing the platform with a group of 60 volunteers drawn from its network of landowners and partners. In sharing feedback about his experience as a tester, Tom - a family forest owner in Wisconsin - commented, “I love being able to keep in touch with so many friends from across the country and share tales from my woods. I’m even able to share and learn about new tools for managing my land.”  

The community is hosted on a third-party platform created by Mobilize and can be accessed on web and mobile applications. "While we value gathering in person,” notes Alastair Jarvis, AFF’s Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Technology Strategy, “one of the positive impacts of the COVID pandemic has been a realization that through technology it is possible foster peer learning and fellowship in ways that are accessible and inclusive.”  

Other public social media platforms, while free to use, operate on a business model that commercializes its user data and insights.  AFF understands that privacy is important to family forest owners, so we have chosen to implement a different platform committed to helping us achieve our mission. The technology upon which The Family Forest is built is supported by license fees paid by AFF, not by advertising, user data is not shared with third-parties and our community guidelines prohibit use of the platform for advertising and marketing purposes, all to ensure the highest quality experience for our members. 

At AFF, we understand that family forest owners are diverse in their need for information and their ability to access resources to help them on their stewardship journeys. AFF is proud to be on the leading edge of innovative solutions that meet landowners where they are, and empower them to invite friends, family, and neighbors to join them in the work of caring for our forests. 

Join us in The Family Forest at community.forestfoundation.org. 

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