Forestry Law

What is Forestry Law?

A subcategory of environmental law, Forestry Law relates to all statutes and regulations that deal with the preservation of forests and parks, reforestation activities to ensure the sustainability of the nation's lands, and the prevention of illegal logging activities. These laws derive from both federal and state sources.


A major focus of forestry law is preservation. Many forests take decades or centuries to regenerate. Indeed, some species of tree, such as the California Redwood, can take thousands of years to reach their enormous size. As a result, preservation of such resources must be a primary focus of any conservation law, as these resources are not readily replaced once they are lost. Preservation laws include limitations on logging, anti-forest fire campaigns, and other environmental protections. These laws also affect those in more urban settings, by regulating, for example, the removal of trees from personal property, or requiring special permits to trim or cut down trees over a certain diameter or age.


In cases where forests are lost through natural disaster, forest fire, or man's activities, often the only means of replacing what has been lost is through reforestation efforts. A number of state and federal initiatives support such efforts by providing incentives to land owners who replace trees on their property. In the logging industry it is now often mandated that after an area has been cleared, new trees must be replanted in the place of those that have been removed. This not only protects the environment, but promotes the sustainability of the logging industry as a whole.

Illegal Activities

As with any area regulated by the law, there are always those who will attempt to circumvent it. In the case of forestry law, this often takes the form of illegal logging activities. For example, after a ban was placed on logging cypress trees, some operations would simply sneak into habitats where such trees grew and cut them down anyway because of the greatly increased value the prized wood suddenly had due to scarcity. Had such activities been allowed to continue without regulation, the cypress could have been rendered extinct. Fortunately, strict sanctions and enforcement came into effect that imposed heavy fines and even criminal sanctions against those found to be illegally logging.

Another example of illegal activities related to forestry is the intentional setting of forest fires. Not only do such fires endanger natural resources, but they can spread into inhabited areas, damaging and destroying homes and property and endangering the lives of residents.

For more information about Forestry Law, please visit the resources listed below. Additionally, should you require legal assistance or have a specific question better suited for an attorney, then please visit our Law Firms page for a list of attorneys in your area.


Forestry Law - US

  • ABA - Forest Resources Committee

    The Forest Resources committee addresses virtually every issue that touches both private and public forest lands. We focus on all legal, policy and practical issues of interest to owners, lenders, trade associations, managers, users and others who are interested in forest lands. Through various programs, we provide information to our committee members that is not available from any other organization.

  • Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

    Established in 1905, the Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the mission of the Forest Service— "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run." National forests and grasslands encompass 193 million acres of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas.

  • Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA)

    The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act authorizes long-range planning by the US Forest Service to ensure the future supply of forest resources while maintaining a quality environment. RPA requires that a renewable resource assessment and a Forest Service plan be prepared every ten and five years, respectively, to plan and prepare for the future of natural resources.

  • Forest Land Enhancement Program

    The 2002 Farm Bill authorized the Forest Service to launch a multimillion-dollar forestry program to further assist nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners. The Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP) replaces the Stewardship Incentives Program (SIP) and the Forestry Incentives Program (FIP), while complementing the Forest Stewardship Program by providing cost-share assistance for management plan implementation.

  • Lacey Act - Illegal Logging

    The Lacey Act is a piece of US legislation which was introduced in 1900 to prevent transportation of illegally captured wildlife across state lines. It has been amended several times, most recently in June 2008 when US Congress agreed to extend the Act to timber products. This made the US the first country to legislate against the handling of timber which is illegal according to the laws of the country the timber originated from.

  • Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960

    The first of the environmental protection laws was the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960. Its purpose was to ensure that all possible uses and benefits of the national forests and grasslands would be treated equally. The "multiple uses" included outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish in such combinations that they would best meet and serve human needs.

  • National Forest Management Act (NFMA)

    he National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 (P.L. 94-588) is a United States federal law that is the primary statute governing the administration of national forests and was an amendment to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, which called for the management of renewable resources on national forest lands. The law was seen as necessary, because a lawsuit (commonly known as the Monongahela decision) had invalidated many timber practices in the national forests.

  • North American Forest Commission (NAFC)

    The North American Forest Commission (NAFC) is one of six regional forestry commissions of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) . Established in 1958, NAFC provides a policy and technical forum for Canada, Mexico and the United States to discuss and address forest issues on a North American basis.

  • The Weeks Act

    The Weeks Act gave the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to purchase forested, cut-over, and denuded lands for the regulation of navigable streams and opened up the possibility of creating National Forests in the eastern United States.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

  • US Forest Service Law Enforcement

    Law enforcement is an integral part of the overall management of the National Forest System. Law enforcement personnel, line officers, and appropriate staff ensure that prevention, investigation, enforcement, and program management requirements are fully integrated into all National Forest System resource management programs. Law enforcement personnel operate as full partners within the Forest Service organization in carrying out the agency's mission, especially in upholding federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, agency employees, and the public.

  • Wilderness Act of 1964

    The Wilderness Act created a system of wilderness reserves and specific management guidance for wilderness areas designated by Congress. Today there are 107.5 million acres of designated wilderness on federal lands and more than 35 million acres of that wilderness is on the National Forests.

Organizations Related to Forestry Law

  • American Tree Farm System

    Our mission - To promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry. The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation's Center for Family Forests, is committed to sustaining forests, watershed and healthy habitats through the power of private stewardship.

  • Bureau of Land Management

    The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

  • Communities Committee

    The Communities Committee is a nonprofit organization made up of a diverse group of people from across the United States who believe local participation in stewardship of natural resources is critical to both forest ecosystem health and community well-being. The Committee is comprised of urban foresters, environmental activists, private forest landowners, civil servants, forest stewardship practitioners, professional foresters, forest industry representatives, academics, and researchers.

  • Forest Certification Resource Center

    Developed and maintained by Metafore, the Forest Certification Resource Center (FCRC) provides comprehensive, objective information and customized tools to a broad audience interested in forest management, forest certification and responsible wood and paper purchasing. This site introduces the concept of forest certification, provides information on the major certification programs around the world and describes the markets for certified wood products.

  • IUCN - Forest Law and Governance

    IUCN sees illegal logging and related challenges such as poverty and degraded forest landscapes, among others, as symptoms and results of weak forest governance that can only be effectively addressed through locally and nationally appropriate forest governance arrangements that enjoy the active participation and support of diverse stakeholder groups.

  • National Association of State Foresters

    NASF seeks to discuss, develop, sponsor and promote programs and activities which will advance the practice of sustainable forestry, the conservation and protection of forest lands and associated resources and the establishment and protection of forests in the urban environment.

  • National Forest Foundation

    Founded by Congress in 1991, the National Forest Foundation works with the U.S. Forest Service to care for these natural treasures for the millions of visitors they receive each year and for you, and those who come after you. The National Forest Foundation brings people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands. As the nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service, we engage America in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the National Forest System. We also administer private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.

  • National Park Service

    Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, we are proud to safeguard these nearly 400 places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But our work doesn’t stop there. We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.

  • United States Department of Agriculture

    We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. We want to be recognized as a dynamic organization that is able to efficiently provide the integrated program delivery needed to lead a rapidly evolving food and agriculture system.

Publications Related to Forestry Law

  • Forest Stewardship Issues And Policies

    Forest stewardship issues and policies help to educate people about the role as well as the state of the forests in the surrounding areas.

  • National Forest Law Blog

    Mr. Woody started in 2008 based on the overwhelming demand for legal news and information about the National Forests. Mr. Woody has a special interest in environmental and natural resources law. He is a member of the Natural Resources Division and Forest Resources Committee of the American Bar Association.

  • Roundtable on Sustainable Forests

    The Roundtable on Sustainable Forests is an open and inclusive process committed to the goal of sustainable forest management (SFM) on public and private lands in the United States. Roundtable participants include public and private organizations and individuals committed to better decision-making through shared learning and increased understanding.

  • Student Guide To Tropical Forest Conservation

    The world's tropical forests, which circle the globe, are interestingly diverse. Ranging from the steamy jungles of the rain forests to the dry forests and savannas, they provide habitat for millions of species of plants and animals. Once covering some 15.3 billion acres (6.2 billion ha), these tropical forests have been reduced through cutting and clearing by 210 million acres (85 million ha) between 1985 and 1990. All types of tropical forests are defined and their products and benefits to the environment are presented and discussed.

Articles on Related to Forestry Law

  • Wildlife, Fish, and Plants: Violations of the Lacey Act in Customs Law
    The Lacey Act was passed in 1900 and was the first federal law to protect wildlife. This intersection of conservation and Customs Law makes it illegal to transfer, move, or trade in certain wildlife, fish, and plants. Violations of the Lacey Act can lead to severe civil and criminal penalties.
  • The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Funding Problem
    In theory, as well as in public support, Texas Parks and Wildlife funding is essential. The funds are garnered through a sporting good sales tax with 94 percent of the revenue slated for ongoing park and wildlife maintenance and 6 percent going to the Texas Historical Commission for maintenance of historical sites throughout the state.
  • How Arbitrary and Nasty the Power of Eminent Domain Can Be
    Seizure of the Barries' Colorado dream cabin shows how arbitrary and nasty the power of eminent domain can be.
  • Families Await Answers Following Oil Rig Explosion off Louisiana Coast
    The Coast Guard has called off its search for 11 oil rig workers missing after the explosion of Deep Water Horizon last Tuesday. Assumed dead, the 11 missing workers join 17 other victims injured in the accident - four of whom remain in critical condition.
  • BP Oil Spill and Exposure to Chemicals
    There are myriad concerns surrounding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, chief among them is the current and potential harm to the ecosystem. Not only did 11 workers lose their lives in this catastrophe, but also there is the possibility that more people will become sick due to the chemicals BP is using to control the oil spill.emicals BP is using to control the oil spill.
  • Follow the Rules when Fishing in Utah this Summer
    Strawberry Reservoir is a popular spot to fish in Utah. Fish can grow well and thrive there, which is good for fishermen. There have been problems there, however, with an overabundance of non-native fish populations. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has tried to reduce non-native fish populations and manage desired fish species with targeted regulations.
  • The New Country of Origin Labeling Law (COOL) and How it Will be Applied
    This article discusses and explains the new Country of Origin Labeling Law (COOL) and describes the impact COOL will have on shoppers, food producers and retailers. The author also unwraps what foods the law covers and what foods and retailers are not regulated by this new law.
  • All Environmental and Natural Resources Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Environmental and Natural Resources including: agricultural law, animal law, energy, environmental law, equine law, forestry and fisheries, natural resources, oil and gas.

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