Forest farming is an agroforestry practice characterized by the four "I's"- Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive management of an existing forested ecosystem wherein forest health is of paramount concern. Agroforestry is an agricultural approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock It is neither forestry nor farming in the traditional sense.
Forest farm management principles constitute an ecological approach to forest management through efforts to find a balance between conservation of native biodiversity and wildlife habitat within the forest and limited, judicious utilization of the forest's varied resources. It attempts to bring secondary growth forests that have been overused and whose ecosystems have become so fragmented that their natural processes are out of equilibrium, back into ecological balance through careful, intentional manipulation over time, emulating natural processes to restore original, natural diversity of species and ecosystem stability.
In some instances, the intentional introduction of native or native-related species for use as botanicals, medicinals or food products is accomplished, utilizing the existing forest ecosystem to aid in support of their growth. The tree cover, soil type, water supply, landform and other site characteristics determine what species will thrive, as opposed to field-grown crop plantings. Developing an understanding of species/site relationships as well as understanding the site limitations is necessary in order to utilize these resources for current needs, while conserving adequate resources for the health of the forest today and for the future.
Forest farm management methods may include: Intensive, yet cautious thinning of overstocked, suppressed tree stands such that no individual species is decimated and such that the crown cover is never depleted leaving the forest floor exposed to excessive sun, rain and erosion ; multiple Integrated entries to accomplish thinnings so that the systemic shock is not so great; and Interactive management to maintain a cross-section of healthy trees and shrubs of all ages and species, rather than a monoculture of timber species. Caution is used to ensure that physical disturbance to the surrounding area is minimized in order for the forest ecosystem to recover more quickly.
Forest farm management is a type of forest stewardship ethic whose philosophy is that the term "sustainable" means what is sustainable for the earth, not what is sustainable for man's demand, and its objective is to restore and maintain the health of the forest land's many and varied ecosystems.
In recent years, the concept of "ecosystem services" has been developed to satisfy the human demand for a means of participating actively in support of ecosystem health and appreciation of the earth's natural assets. This movement is taking many physical forms- the planting of trees; the leaving of timber to grow older; the protection of forest habitat for animal species; creek riparian enhancement. Forest health is already a priority and is currently undertaken on forest farms as part of the management program. This positions them well to respond to this societal need, of conservation-minded individuals who are willing to provide monetary support for the program.
 "In Context" magazine, article by Robert Brothers on forest farmers objectives and goals.
 Cornell University "Forest Farming" defined, with USDA and other related references.
 Proceedings from the 1998 Specialty Forest Products/Forest Farming Conference.
 National Woodland Owners Association (NWOA), "Green Tag" forestry management program
, American Tree Farm System (ATFS)