When a Pennsylvania family wanted to find a way to make the world a better place, they convinced the Pennsylvania legislature to create an official state holiday called "Invite Your Neighbor to Dinner Day", on the second Saturday of January. Dinner day is a designated time when people invite not-so-familiar neighbors to have dinner with them with the hope that friendships will be formed which in turn will increase the strength of their communities. If this seems like a very small way to make the world a better place or if you think it has nothing to do with forest management or land protection, think again.
Most landowners don't actively plan their forest management or engage in estate planning. Instead, most landowners enjoy their land for its beauty, privacy and place to raise a family. However, periodically something triggers the need for landowners to make a decision about their land. It could be an offer of money for standing timber or a death in the family. These critical decisions not only impact the lives of the landowner, but also impact the future of our forested landscapes and the benefits they provide.
When these important forest management and land protection decisions arise, landowners very often turn to trusted friends and neighbors (their social network) for information and advice. The difference between a landowner making a hurried, uninformed decision and a well-informed decision often rests in the information or contacts a friend is able to give them.
Forest conservation (management and protection) is as much (or more) about people as it is trees. If you are looking for ways to help forest conservation, consider throwing a potluck or hosting a barbecue to get to know your neighbors. Investing in relationships can give you the opportunity to help your neighbors make an informed decision that is right for them and their family. They just may help you make a good decision someday too. After all, that's what good neighbors do.