How it all began… In 2013, the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities (USE)*, USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and USDA Forest Service initially funded two pilot projects to promote “Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention” in response to the need to restore and conserve African American forested acres and increase its value and productivity through education, technical assistance and forest management resources.
The Center and the Roanoke Electric Cooperative launched the first two pilot projects. The success of the Center’s project, which concludes in October 2015, is detailed below.
As a result of that success, the Center has formally incorporated Sustainable Forestry (SF) into the Center’s work and will work with both heirs’ property and non-heirs’ property landowners.
The Center is seeking three additional years of funding from USE to continue SF services. More than 200 families have already signed up to participate going forward.
*The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc. (the “Endowment”) is a not-for-profit public corporation that works collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities – www.usendowment.org.
Success = Impact = Families transforming their land into a wealth-building asset
Here are the results of the Center’s 30-month SFP pilot project working with 40 families owning a total of 4,103 forested acres
- 40 families have forest management plans and/or conservation plans in place where there had been none;
- 71 families (SFP participants + other families the Center has helped) have applied for USDA/NRCS “EQIP” financial assistance for work done on their land (up to 90% of cost);
- 49 families are approved to receive $390,000 in NRCS “EQIP” financial assistance in 2105-2016;
- 6 families have already received $325,800 in income from selling their timber (average $1,200 per acre);
- 11 families are finalizing harvest sales estimated at a total of $1.2 million in 2016 (average $1,200 per acre);
- 35 families have applied for SC Tree Farm Certification of their land, which can increase their per acre harvest income;
- 2 families have nearly completed their SC Forestry Commission Stewardship Management Plan, and
- 2 families are finalizing conservation easements on their land with four (4) more landowners exploring the process.
One step further…
Twenty SFP participants wanted to do MORE! They have become Woodlands Community Advocates to take the message of forestry management back to their communities.
As keynote speaker – USDA Under Secy. for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said at their graduation…
It’s vitally important to maintain people’s connection to the land to successfully conserve it.