The Northeast Forest Network (NFN), originally known as the New England Forest Policy Group, is a growing coalition of more than two dozen conservationists and advocates across New England and New York dedicated to furthering forest conservation. NFN works to galvanize people and organizations around the message that protecting forests from development and managing them well are imperative to mitigating the impacts of climate change in the Northeast while protecting clean water and air, enhancing human health, sustaining nature and natural systems, and building more resilient economies and communities. Highstead serves as the coordinating organization for the NFN and provides staffing, resources, and financial support.
A vision for forests and communities
The NFN’s vision is permanently protected, climate resilient, and well-managed forests that connect and sustain all communities throughout the Northeast—urban, suburban, and rural. To realize this vision, the network develops communication tools, engages diverse partners, and provides scientific support to decision-makers advocating for the protection and stewardship of forested land across the region.
The pilot campaign, Stand Up for Forests, is designed to help the network’s partner organizations advocate for conservation funding by developing strong, consistent messages that drive awareness and action among the general public as well as local and state legislators. The first toolkit in the campaign, Forests Make Us Healthier, delivers a suite of communications assets, backed by compelling data, to demonstrate the inextricable connection between forests and human health.
Unprecedented regional collaboration
Formed in 2011 to respond to the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, groups across New England agreed to a slate of federal funding recommendations that prioritized land conservation and working forest communities.
From that consensus, the network co-authored policy agendas and letters of testimony supported by more than 100 groups representing every state in the region. This work was a key effort in bridging the gap between conservation approaches in the northern and southern parts of the region, unifying all New England states under a shared set of objectives.
A mission for evolving goals
In 2016, NFN assessed its mission and overall activity through surveys and meetings with state policy groups in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Members used the information gathered to adopt the network’s first organizational framework and a set of goals.
The three priority goals are:
- Fostering cross-sector collaboration
- Developing a prism/set of principles to guide shared messaging
- Training members and engaging local, state, and federal government officials
Since identifying its priority goals, the network has focused its efforts on the Stand Up for Forests shared messaging campaign that aims to appeal to a diverse body of stakeholders. NFN is also exploring additional funding opportunities to expand the scope of the messaging campaign to reach a wider audience and to help drive new forest conservation and management initiatives throughout the region.