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Individual Highlight

Strategies for Successful Engagement of African American Landowners in Forestry

Photo of John Schelhas discusses family land history with Eleanor Cooper Brown in South Carolina.
John Schelhas discusses family land history with Eleanor Cooper Brown in South Carolina. Snapshot : Following four years of operation of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program, USDA Forest Service scientists at the agency's Southern Research Station conducted qualitative research on the three longest running projects to identify lessons for success. The program succeeded through a sustained community-based effort. Lessons for success include addressing obstacles and constraints identified by prior research, establishing community-based networks to provide coordinated outreach and education, linking legal assistance for heirs’ property with forestry assistance, patiently engaging landowners through a process of forestry awareness and action, and resolving difficulties and maintaining momentum with regular feedback and problem solving.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Schelhas, John 
Research Location : North Carolina; South Carolina; Alabama
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1577

Summary

In 2012, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program was initiated by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service agencies. Three community-based pilot projects were begun in three states: North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. Following four years of operation, Forest Service scientists at the agency's Southern Research Station studied the pilots to identify lessons for success. This was in contrast to prior research that had described the problem and made recommendations, but had not analyzed what worked well. The scientists conducted qualitative interviews with 33 individuals associated with the projects, including African American landowners, natural resource professionals from state and federal agencies, cooperative extension agencies, and forest industry professionals. The scientists identified processes to enhance awareness and education about forestry, to address ownership issues and heirs’ property, to improve participation in financial assistance programs, and to increase returns from timber harvesting. The study also identified a ten-step process for gradually increasing landowners’ engagement with sustainable forest management.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Georgia

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