Status of Town and Community Forests in New Hampshire

Town-owned conservation lands are for people—places to come together and build community, learn about the stewardship of the natural world, and recreate alone or in groups. Town lands protect valuable natural resources—water and wildlife habitat. They can bring income to the town.

UNH Cooperative Extension, the Northern Forest Center and the N.H. Association of Conservation Commission (NHACC) conducted a multi-year study to inventory town-owned forests and quantify the economic, ecological and social contributions they make locally and to the state.

What we did

Our study includes land that is 1) owned by a municipality or other local government entity such as a school district or a water district, 2) 10 acres and greater, 3) a combination of forest, field and wetland, and 4) not slated for future development.

Over nearly two years, UNH Cooperative Extension County Foresters interviewed someone “in the know” in 220 of the 244 New Hampshire cities and towns. Together, they located each tract of town-owned conservation land and asked many questions about the governance, protection status, and actual and intended use.

What we learned

We learned that 4% of New Hampshire’s forest is in town ownership, scattered in about 1,700 parcels and encompassing 180,439 acres. A high percentage of the land is permanently protected (69%), has a management plan (54%) and is under the care of a natural resource professional (71%). Most of the land is managed with a multiple use focus (64%) integrating water, recreation, wildlife, and timber into management plans and actions.

Explore town forests in the state, county or town at this website