Audubon Welcomes New Forest Program Associate Rosa Goldman –

As Forestry Program Associate for Connecticut and New York, Rosa Goldman works with local landowners to make their forests healthier for birds and other wildlife.

Growing up in semi-rural western Massachusetts, Goldman recounts the impact forests had on her childhood:

“I definitely took the forests for granted,” she said. “I was surrounded by them all the time and loved spending time in the woods.”

It wasn’t until she got her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and moved to New York that Goldman realized just how powerful that influence was. “Suddenly, the type of forest I had grown up in was no longer so accessible to me. I started learning about urban forestry, but realized pretty quickly that I wanted to go back to school to study forests more generally.

Looking back, Goldman realizes she went through the master’s program without fully understanding the scope of forestry. It took completing his master’s degree to appreciate all the nuances of forestry, and the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place: “I found that I wanted to be able to take my knowledge of forest ecology and management and use it as base of where to connect with other people who care about forests – whether they are landowners, land managers or simply passionate about forests,” Goldman said. “Engaging in science and land management is a way to help people deepen their own relationship with the landscape.”

After completing his master’s degree, Goldman spent a few years working in forest owner education. She managed the Quiet Corner Initiative, Yale’s forest landowner outreach and community engagement program, working primarily in northeast Connecticut. Her experiences working with landowners was one of the reasons she joined Audubon.

“I was drawn to this work with Audubon because birds are a great way to start conversations about forestry. So many people care deeply about birds, so creating better habitat for forest birds is a wonderful way to introduce forest management concepts,” she explains. To the northeast, bird habitat includes many middle-aged trees. This is the result of colonial land use, deforestation and the abandonment of agricultural fields. “Many of the things we recommend to diversify the age and structure of the forest for bird habitat also have the benefit of making the forest healthier overall and increasing its resilience to climate change.”

One of the key elements of the forestry program is to carry out site assessments. These are assessments recording the scale of the forest landscape, the tree species and the different ages present. Goldman explains, “A site assessment is not just about the property, but also the area around it. It is important to view the property within the larger landscape.

“For the ordinary person, I would also encourage them to practice thinking about forests as dynamic systems. Maybe there is a path that you walk every day, and you feel very attached to it and comforted by it, and are used to it appearing a certain way. But over time you may notice changes – a tree falls here or there, saplings grow taller, you notice different animals. Changes in a forest can be as small as this or as large as a major windstorm, but either way they are part and parcel of the forest. Sustainable forest management follows the trajectory of a forest in the same way, mimicking natural disturbances and often addressing challenges arising from past land use.

Forestry has historically been a male-dominated field, but Goldman notes that is changing. More and more women are engaged in forestry and collaborating with other women. An example of this is Women owners of forest land, a network of women owners. Goldman states that “engaged women landowners are powerful”.

Currently, Goldman is helping complete a grant project with Last Green Valley (a northeast Connecticut organization). This project includes providing bird habitat assessments and site visits to create bird management plans. One of Goldman’s upcoming projects will be to expand the Bird-Friendly Maple program to Connecticut. Here you will find information about the New York Bird-Friendly Maple program.

“For me, forestry is a way of having an active relationship with the land. You will often hear forest management described as “an art and a science”. Yes, it’s science-based, but it’s also heavily location-based,” Goldman notes. “To practice forestry, you have to adapt your practices to the history and context of where you work. Forest management can look like many different things – from harvesting trees, to managing invasive species, to putting up deer fences.

Top photo: Rosa Goldman, new Audubon Forestry Program Associate for Connecticut and New York. Photo courtesy of Sharon Bruce, Senior Communications Manager.

Ryan H. Bowman