Planning Directives

Moccasin Creek in Kelly Ridge, Chattahoochee National park
U.S. Forest Service planning directives provide the nitty-gritty details of forest management.

Planning directives outline the guidelines and requirements the U.S. Forest Service must apply when implementing the national forest planning rule.  Planning directives are designed to maintain consistent management approaches, even when presidential administrations and Forest Service chiefs change.  

What are planning directives and why do we have them?

The planning directives provide consistent management practices across all national forests. The directives system establishes a unified system that governs all Forest Service programs and activities.  It is like a code-of-conduct for the Forest Service.

Directives consist of the Forest Service Manual and Forest Service Handbook.

The Forest Service Manual

The Forest Service Manual contains legal authorities, responsibilities, instructions and guidance. The manual contains numerous volumes organized by numerically-coded subjects.  They are:

  • 1900 - Zero Code
  • 1910 - National Resource Planning
  • 1920 - Land and Resource Management Planning
  • 1930 - Program Development and Budgeting
  • 1950 - Environmental Policy and Procedures
  • 1960 - Policy Analysis
  • 1970 - Economic and Social Analysis
  • 1990 - Special Plans and Studies

Section 1920 relates to forest planning. 

Forest Service Handbook

The Forest Service Handbook addresses the same topics as the manual but offers more detail on forest planning and management. 

The Forest Service Handbook sections related to forest planning are:

  • 1909.12 - Land and Resource Management Planning Handbook
  • 1909.13 - Program Development and Budgeting Handbook
  • 1909.14 - Resource Inventory Handbook
  • 1909.15 - Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook
  • 1909.17 - Economic and Social Analysis Handbook

What do these numbers mean?

The directives have a unique coding scheme, called "zero code."  The zero code is at the beginning of each manual and handbook and applies to all items within a series, title, chapter or section.

Helpful links

Forest Service planning directives are kind of like a code-of-conduct for the agency.

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