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.

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