The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Private Forest Owners Sign Agreement to Advance Collaborative Conservation of Wildlife on Private Working Forest Nationwide



January 12, 2024

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) announces a new collaboration with the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), formalized through a recent memorandum of understanding, focused on advancing the conservation of at-risk and listed species within private working forests nationwide in conjunction with NAFO’s Wildlife Conservation Initiative (WCI). 

The new agreement will enhance the partnership between AFWA and NAFO, broadening the application of the WCI’s proactive approach to voluntary conservation.

The WCI is built upon the shared belief that significant species conservation outcomes can be achieved through open dialogue, identifying common goals and supporting productive voluntary collaboration among stakeholders. It serves as a model for how states and private entities can collaborate effectively to achieve conservation successes.

“By signing this MOU, state fish & wildlife agencies are joining in the conversation for a collaborative approach to species conservation on private lands,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and President of the Association. “Through proactive, voluntary participation in this program, we are able to better implement our state wildlife action plans (SWAPs) and make a meaningful impact to conserve our species of greatest conservation need.”

“By signing this MOU, forest owners and State Fish and Wildlife Agencies are making a significant commitment to voluntary, proactive conservation,” said David Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners. “As proud stewards of their land, private forest owners invest heavily in conservation efforts on their own. Our experience with the WCI has demonstrated that the sustainable management of private working forests is an effective wildlife conservation solution. Through proactive, voluntary participation and collaboration, we can leverage the insights, information and experience of private forest owners, conservation groups and State Fish and Wildlife Agencies to achieve positive results for wildlife.”

The WCI has ongoing species conservation projects throughout the United States where NAFO members own or manage significant acres of working forests. The initiative makes more than 46 million acres of private working forests available for collaborative species conservation initiatives. Through the open dialogue of the WCI, private forest owners are sharing valuable insights and information with state fish and wildlife agencies, including the presence of species on their lands, the status of forest conditions and decades of research and management experience on the impacts of active forest management on wildlife habitats.

As part of the ongoing work of the WCI, private forest owners provide much-needed access to forest habitat for researchers to conduct on-the-ground studies about forest-dependent species. This provides more robust data, which helps forest owners and agencies alike make better decisions about managing and protecting wildlife habitats. The WCI’s proactive and collaborative approach to conservation is being recognized as a promising non-regulatory method for conserving species for future generations.

For more information about the WCI, please visit:




The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice. 

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) is a national advocacy organization committed to advancing federal policies that ensure our working forests provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and jobs through sustainable practices and strong markets. NAFO member companies own and sustainably manage more than 46 million acres of private working forests – forests that are managed to provide a steady supply of timber. NAFO’s membership also includes state and national associations representing tens of millions of additional acres. Private working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. Private working forests – which provide 90% of our timber harvest for wood and fiber – also account for 80% of our total net forest carbon sequestration and nearly half of our forest carbon storage. Learn more at | @NAFO_Forests