International Year of Forests Awards Photography Fellowship

United Nations Initiative ‘International Year of Forests‘ Awards Photography Fellowship

July 22, 2011

WASHINGTON (July 22, 2011) – Capturing the “elusive soul of the American forest” will be the mission of Josh Birnbaum, the International Year of Forests Photography Fellow, for the next 10 weeks. Birnbaum was awarded the Photography Fellowship as part of the International Year of Forests celebration, a worldwide initiative established by the United Nations. The fellowship is co-sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) with support from the NASF Foundation.

While much of the Year of Forests campaign in the U.S. focuses on the tangible impact of forests on our economies and ecosystems – the photography fellowship recognizes that there is an element of the human relationship with forests that cannot be quantified, measured or graphed. Other components of the Year of Forests campaign include advocacy events, education toolkits and developing new research to highlight the role of forests in U.S. society. The photography fellowship offers a unique means to convey the message of the campaign through images rather than data. Recognizing the multitude of people and professions that own, appreciate and care for the nation’s forests, the fellowship will document the human experience in America’s forests. Birnbaum’s images will help articulate the benefits we derive from the sustainable management of our forests.

Birnbaum says he is up to the task of capturing the intangible relationship between people and forests. “For years, I’ve had an interest in photography and its impact on our culture. The chance to be the Photography Fellow for the Year of Forests is an incredible opportunity for me to combine my interests and highlight important forestry and human issues on a national scale,” says Birnbaum. “I’m excited to hit the road in search of the elusive soul of the American forest.”

Josh Birnbaum is a recent Ohio University photojournalism graduate. He was awarded the fellowship because, according to NASF Communications Director Sarah McCreary, “He is a remarkable photographer whose work contains a depth of insight, perceptiveness and exceptional technical competence.” McCreary anticipates “powerful images that capture the human connection to forests and their value to society on a social, economic and environmental level.” The fellowship sponsors travel support to six states across the country for the purpose of gathering photographic and interview media for development into photo essays and multimedia products. The works will convey the role of forests in U.S. society and the benefits people receive from the forests within our borders.

Colin Donohue, Executive Director of The National Network of Forest Practitioners, one of the fellowship co-sponsors, observes, “This fellowship is a small step in raising national awareness of the importance of forests to all people,” which Donohue says is needed because “the role of forests in U.S. society is largely unappreciated. They provide for clean drinking water, climate moderation, and a wide variety of benefits for all of us. Whether you live in the woods or in the city, you rely on forests for your quality of life.”

Birnbaum will document the progress of the fellowship in a blog at the official U.S. Year of Forests website, Photographs from the project will also be available to be viewed at the Year of Forests Flickr site,, and will be presented as a touring photography exhibit later this fall at galleries in Washington, DC, Ohio and beyond.

About the National Association of State Foresters
The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) is a non-profit organization representing the directors of forestry agencies in the states, territories and the District of Columbia of the United States. NASF promotes programs and activities that advance the practice of sustainable forestry, the conservation and protection of forestlands and associated resources and the establishment and protection of forests in the urban environment. For more information, visit

About National Network of Forest Practitioners
The National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) is a national non-profit that promotes the mutual well being of workers, rural communities, and forests by supporting individuals and groups that build sustainable relationships between forests and people. NNFP supports rural communities by working to establish meaningful jobs, and in turn healthy economies, that are rooted in sustainable practice. For more information, visit

About the International Year of Forests
This international yearlong celebration will focus on the people’s actions to sustainably manage the world’s trees and forests. Through a resolution passed on December 20, 2006, the United Nations outlined its objectives for the Year which include: to reverse the loss of forest cover, enhance economic, social and environmental benefits, increase the area of sustainably managed forests and to mobilize increased financial resources.

Within the United States, including its eight territories and the District of Columbia, the campaign will be celebrated on the national, regional, local and personal levels. Using the tagline, “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.” the campaign speaks to the importance of trees and forests to people and the connection between U.S. forests and a healthy environment, lifestyle and economy. The connection will be communicated through four major themes: clean air and water, ecosystem health, economic health and community and personal health.

Specific goals of the national program include: raise awareness of sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests; elevate the conversation around sustainable forestry; encourage the adoption of the idea that there is a significant value, benefit and importance of sustainable forestry in the U.S.; and establish a new policy regarding forestry in America.
For more information on the International Year of Forests, please visit:

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