Even as we look at the progress, we are simultaneously aware that many barriers confront community forestry. Many people in the movement-community leaders, partnership members, small wood products operators, and public land managers-work energetically and voice great hope in a new approach to forest stewardship. They hold strong beliefs in an alternative approach that will bring many perspectives and resources together for sustainable forest renewal, based on sound principles of forests management and long-term community health. Expectations for this balanced and sustainable community and ecological approach are very high.
And yet those who work consistently at the center of community forestry are also aware that many difficulties lie ahead, that much depends on a practical alignment of resources, leadership, authorities, and innovative knowledge. They know that a sustainable alignment of these factors has not yet occurred, and that in some respects it seems a ways off in the future, still they work continuously in the hope that it can be achieved. Sustaining a common theme and sense of hope in community based forest stewardship is in itself an on-going need.
The other need is for a pragmatic look at the inner workings of community forestry. What are its day-to-day operational components? What are the nuts and bolts that make it work? Beyond the concepts of a new approach to forestry, such as collaboration and sustainability, there is the real work of creating a business, designing an implementable restoration project, building working relationships with public land managers, developing community understanding and support for restoration ecology, while still making a living. The future success of community forestry is in its practice, and the associated ability to learn from the process. Indeed many factors, such as land management policies and resource conservation theories, could and should become more supportive of a new community stewardship ethic. But authentic success will result primarily from the hard-earned, best practices of many partners who are willing to dedicate themselves to a new way of doing business in the woods, and learning together.
Even today, much of the challenge of community-restoration forestry is to examine the current and historical situation of a particular social place and a specific forest landscape, and then generate well-grounded action alternatives.