Forestry has been an important part of American industry since the late 1600s and remains so to this day. As the importance of the timber industry was realized early in American history, so too was the need for laws to regulate it. For example, in 1708 New Hampshire passed an ordinance forbidding the harvesting of trees on ungranted lands. Since that time, statutes affecting the forestry industry have expanded and evolved with the industry itself. From laws regulating timber theft to complex environmental regulations, those engaged in forestry must follow numerous state and federal laws both similar and distinct from those involved in other agricultural operations. Over the last three decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number and the complexity of the laws affecting forestry. Read the full overview.

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

National Forests, 16 U.S.C. §§ 471-546b-1
Forest Resources Conservation and Shortage Relief Act of 1990, 16 U.S.C. §§ 620-620j
Forest resources Conservation and Shortage Relief Amendments Act of 1993
Federal Water Pollution Prevention and Control Act (a/k/a/ Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1388
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2901-2912
Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 41-48
Lacey Act Amendments, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378
Protection of Migratory Game and Insectivorous Birds Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 701-719c
Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, 16 U.S.C. § 528
Wildfire Disaster Recovery Act of 1989, 16 U.S.C. § 551
The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (MUSYA), 16 U.S.C. § 528 et seq.
Scenic Areas, 16 U.S.C. §§ 541-546b-1a-5
Timber Protection Act of September 20, 1922, 16 U.S.C. § 594
Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, 16 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6591
Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1976, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1600-1614
Forest Ecosystems and Atmospheric Pollution Research Act of 1988, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1641-1650
Renewable Resources Extension Act of 1978, 16 USCS §§ 1671-1676
Wood Residue Utilization Act of 1978, 16 USCS §§ 1681-1687
Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2114
National Forest-Dependent Rural Communities Economic Diversification Act of 1990, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6611-6617
Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004, 16 U.S.C. §§ 6701-6707
Global Climate Change Prevention Act of 1990, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6701-6710
Study of Global Climate Change, Agriculture, and Forestry, 7 U.S.C. § 6702
Office of International Forestry, 7 U.S.C. § 6704
Institutes of Tropical Forestry, 7 U.S.C § 6706
Urban Forestry Demonstration Projects, 7 U.S.C § 6707
International Forestry Cooperation Act of 1990, 16 U.S.C. §§ 4501-4505
Hawaii Tropical Forest Recovery Act, 16 U.S.C. § 4503b
Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) of 1998, 22 U.S.C. 2431
John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, PL 116-9
Compilation of States’ Recreational Use Statutes
Compilation of States’ Agritourism Statutes


Removing Regulations Implementing the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Parts 300 et seq
Healthy Forests Reserve Program Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 625 – 625.12
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 636
Tree Assistance Program, 7 C.F.R. §§ 783.1-783.9
Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, 36 C.F.R. §§ 200.1-297.6
Wilderness Preservation, 43 C.F.R. §§ 19.1-19.8
Forest Management, 43 C.F.R. §§ 5003.1-5511.5
Management of Designated Wilderness Areas, 43 C.F.R. §§ 6301.1-6305.30
Endangered Species Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. Part 17
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 83.1-83.21 (reserved)
Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife, 50 C.F.R. §§ 14.1-14.255
Indian Forest Resources Management, 25 U.S.C. Ch. 33

Case Law

Case Law Index for Forestry

Center Research Publications

Managing Legal Risk for Alternative Uses of Forestland (R. Rumley, Hatch, Walkingstick, E. Rumley, McPeake)
Compilation of State Forestry Organizations (Rumley & Knyazhishcheva, 2009)
Recent Agritourism Litigation in the United States (Kirk Hall, Essman; 2020)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Climate Change
Environmental Issues

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Forestry:

Energy Issues
Environmental Issues
Land Use Regulation
Public Lands

Reference Resources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Agriculture and Forestry
Forestry and Logging Sector
Land Use, Land Use Change & Forestry

Foreign Agricultural Services

Ecosystem Services
Federal Income Tax on Timber
Forest Economics and Policy
Forest Legacy Program
Forest Management
Forest Products Laboratory
Forest Products Market News
Forest Service
Forest Taxation & Estate Planning
Forest Service Directives
International Programs
Forest Stewardship
Natural Resources Professionals
Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Business Expenses Guide
The Farmer’s Tax Guide (2018)
Forest Activities Schedule (Form T – Timber)
Life Cycle of an Agricultural or Horticultural Organization
Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules
Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
Timber Casualty Losses

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Forestry and Grasslands
National Agroforestry Center
National Agroforestry Center Tools

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Forest Programs

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Drought Index
Nonpoint Source Pollution
Wildfire Interactive Maps

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Agricultural Wildlife Conservation Center
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Forestry Technical Resources
Landscape Conservation Initiatives
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP)
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Forest Service Laws & Regulations Summary
Forest Service: Managing the Land (USDA)
History of Forest Planning & The National Forest management Act of 1976 (NFMA)
Natural Resources and Environment: Forest and Forestry (USDA)
Regulations & Policies (Current Forest Service)

Congressional Resources

House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Other Federal Resources

Bureau of Land Management: Forests and Woodlands (BLM)
Conserving Biodiversity (United States Agency for International Development)
Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies (April 2022)
National Association of Conservation Districts: Forestry (NACD)

Additional Resources

American Forest and Paper Association
American Forest Foundation
American Forests
American Tree Farm System
American Wood Council
Association of Consulting Foresters
Australian Forest Products Association (Australia)
Center for International Trade in Forest Products (U. of WA)
Dictionary of Forestry
Ecoforestry Institute
Federal Forest Resource Coalition
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Forestry
Forest Landowners
Forest Products Society
Forest Resources Association
Forest Resource Consultants
Forest Stewardship Council
Forest Stewards Guild
Forestry Library (U. of MN)
Forestry Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
Forestry Webinar Portal
Intermountain Forest Association
International Forest Industries
International Society of Arboriculture
International Tropical Timber Organization
International Union of Forest Research Organizations
National Association of State Foresters (NASF)
National Council for Air & Stream Improvement (NCASI)
National Forest Foundation
National Hardwood Lumber Association
National Wildlife Federation
National Woodland Owners Association
North American Wholesale Lumber Association
Private Forest Landowners Association
Roundtable on Sustainable Forests
Society of American Foresters
Society of Wood Science and Technology
Southern Group of State Foresters
Southern Forest Products Association
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry (TAPPI)
U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
Using Alternative Enterprises and Recreational Development to Bolster Farm Incomes (Workbook) (Tullos)
Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
Western Wood Products Association


Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Steps for Climate Resilience and Forest Conservation (USDA 2023)
Current Forestry Reports (2023)
Forest Ecosystem Health Indicators (USDA 2020)
Forest Inventory and Analysis (USDA 2020)
Major Forest Insect and Disease Conditions in the United States: 2018 (USDA 2020)
Farm Bill 2018: Programs of Interest to Forest Landowners (NC State Extension 2018)
Income Tax Deduction on Timber and Landscape Tree Loss from Casualty (USDA 2018)
Partnering for Sustainability, Protection, Restoration, and Stewardship of National Forests and Grasslands (USDA 2018)
State of the World’s Forests 2018 (FAO 2018)
Supporting U.S. Agricultural Landscapes Under Changing Conditions with Agroforestry (USDA 2018)
Forest Health and Wildfires (NACD 2017)
Tax Reform Issues for Forest Landowners and the Forest Products Industry (NWOA 2017)
Trees at Work: Economic Accounting for Forest Ecosystem Services in the U.S. South (USDA 2017)
Friends of the Forest (NACD 2016)
Stewardship Contracting Manual (BLM 2016)
Family Forest Owners and Federal Taxes (Greene et al. 2013)
Forest Landowners’ Guide to the Federal Income Tax (USDA 2013)
The Principal Laws Relating to USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Programs (USDA 2011)
Estate Planning for Forest Landowners: What Will Become of Your Timberland? (Siegel, Haney, and Greene 2009)
Tax Implications of Forest Ownership (Siegal 2008)
Minimizing Federal Income Tax for Forest Landowners (MI St. U., 2005)
National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Forestry (EPA 2005)
National Forestry Handbook (NRCS 2004)
Forested Landscapes in Perspective (Consensus Study Reports 1998)
National Forestry Manual (NRCS 1998)
Forest Landowner Natural Disaster Desk Guide and Toolkit (MS Coastal Plains RC&D)
National Agroforestry Center Research Publications (USDA)
Recent Literature and Resources: Forest Management on Public Lands (FWS)