Community forest ownership, rights, and governance regimes in the United States
Community forests have been established in many parts of the United States, spanning a broad range of ownership models, tenure regimes, governance approaches, aims, and activities, and have evolved over time within local and larger-scale social-ecological contexts and conditions. Understanding how different community forest ownership models and associated property rights and governance regimes shape benefits and potential trade-offs for forests and communities in the United States is important for devising effective policies and practices related to community forestry. In this chapter, we explore the range in community forest ownership in the United States and consider how different ownership models affect community authority and participation in forest decisions and outcomes at the local level. We start with an overview of US forest ownership. Then, we review key bodies of theory on land ownership and property rights, which provide a lens for examining the range in rights and roles of communities under different community forest ownerships. We include examples of public, private, and tribe-owned community forests to explore and compare these variations. Finally, we discuss the implications of different community forest ownership models for local communities and their rights, responsibilities, and benefits from forests in the United States.