Arkansas is a diverse state comprised of 33.3 million acres, 56 percent of which is forested. More than half of Arkansas's 18.8 million forested acres are oak and other hardwoods, and 41 percent are softwoods dominated by pine. Arkansas’s Forest Action Plan addresses six pervasive issues related to the conservation of its forests: water quality and quantity, forest health, forest fragmentation, parcelization and urbanization, forest productivity, climate change, and fire management. The Action Plan provides strategies for addressing each of these issues.
Conserving forests for the multitude of economic and environmental benefits they provide to all Arkansans
Protecting forests from catastrophic wildfire, insects, diseases and other threats to forest health
Enhancing forests and their environmental services through strategic partnerships and directives
Increase and enhance the benefits of working forests: The increasing parcelization of forests, changing landowner demographics, and lack of basic knowledge of forest management are barriers to increasing and enhancing working forests. These barriers can be overcome through a combination of outreach, incentives, and development of value-added markets. The Forest Stewardship Program has been identified as one vehicle to provide landowners basic forestry knowledge, access to forestry professionals, and increase awareness of changing markets.
Water Quality and Quantity: Conversion of forested riparian areas, increasing urbanization, maintaining forest cover in Karst topography, and forest parcelization have been identified as threats to the quality and quantity of water in Arkansas. However, opportunities exist to preserve and expand forests integral to protecting water. These opportunities include protecting forested karst recharge watersheds from development, and protecting forested riparian zones and watersheds critical to public drinking water supplies and aquatic life through programs such as Forest Legacy. Partnering with other agencies to reach out to landowners in areas of traditionally low BMP implementation has also been identified as a water quality preservation goal.
Forest Health: Forests in Arkansas are threatened by numerous species of nonnative invasive insects and diseases. Enhancing those threats are the forests’ proximity to the Wildland Urban Interface, lack of active forest management, and/or proximity to highways that cross state boundaries. Nonnative invasive species are a threat to forest health and productivity, and as a result threaten the economic and environmental benefits that forests provide. The Arkansas Forestry Commission partners with other state and federal agencies and non-profits to develop and make available tools and training to increase the public’s awareness of invasive forest pests.