Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFP)

 “Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention” Program (SFP)

(30-month pilot project)

How it all began… The Center’s “Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention” Pilot Program (SFP) was one of two projects funded by the US Endowment of Forestry and Communities, Inc., USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and USDA Forest Service.

SFP launched in June 2013 to address the need to restore and conserve African American forested acres and increase its value and productivity for the landowner by providing education, technical assistance and resources of forest management to African American landowners. Forester Sam Cook was hired to direct the program.

The response has been tremendous.  There are many reasons WHY:

  • 10 years of good-faith and trust that the Center had built-up in these communities so that they were open to this new information
  • Track record of successfully resolving heirs’ property issues in these communities
  • The core value of EDUCATION in all that we do
  • Invaluable and generous professional partnerships


40 families are participating in the program with a total of 4,103 acres

  • 16 Heir’s property owners
  • 16 Non-heirs’ property owners
  • 6 LLCs
  • 2 Organizations
  • 36 of the 40 families have had their land assessed by a professional forester
  • 27 of the 40 families have developed a forest management plan with USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or USDA Forest Service Agency
  • 25 of the families have applied for cost-share reimbursement through NRCS/EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) for work* done on their land

*Work includes: Starting over, site prep, thinning, clear cutting, burning, cleaning up and planting.


ONE STORY worth telling…Mr. Vander Green (pictured below) thought he was going to have  to sell half of his father’s 42-acres of forestland to pay off his debts, when he heard about SFP from his neighbor who was a participant. He called the Center; joined SFP; walked his forested acres with a professional forester; had his timber cut; paid off his debt; made a small profit and saved every inch of his father’s land.

Van now knows the value of his land and is proud of it

Van now knows the value of his land and is proud of it

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 –

Learn more about our program from our flyer.


BEWARE…of offers to “cut your trees.” 

Chances are your timber is worth a lot more than you think


  • Your professional forestry consultant will be your trusted forest management partner and friend for years to come. The more money YOU make, the more money he makes!
  • He’s not going to “cut and run” like a fly-by-night logger who doesn’t care about the condition, health and re-growth of your forest.
  • He will walk your land with you to assess its value.
  • He will listen to your needs and hopes for the land and then help you develop a forest management plan to realize them.
  • He will introduce you to reputable loggers who will bid on the work to be done and you will choose the one you want.
  • He will oversee the work for quality control.

 [The SC Forestry Commission can provide you with a list of consultants they recommend.] 


Longleaf Pine Stand-ing Proud

Longleaf Pine Stand-ing Proud

Succession/Legacy Planning – WHAT’S AT STAKE!

 What’s going to happen to your forestland after you are gone? Without a plan, your forestland could be liquidated, parcelized, lost to the family and even – paved over.

 FACTS about forestland in South Carolina:

  • 68% of total land area is forestland (13.1 million acres)
  • 88% of these forests are privately owned
  • 64% are family owned
  • The average “family forest” is 80 acres with 50% of the owners living on the land
  • 60% of current private US forestland owners is 55 years or older and nearly half of them have already retired. [National Woodland Owner Survey]

Forest owners and their professional foresters need to talk about this and work together on legacy plans, but many professionals feel ill-equipped or that it’s “not their place.”

BUT IT IS!  Through SFP educational workshops, the Center is helping families and forestry/conservationist professionals to “start talking” and make the best plan for the future of each family’s land.

So Many Expert Partners…so Much To Do! 

Sustainable Forestry Partners and Funders

(left to right) Danyelle O’Hara (Consultant, US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc.), Calvin Bailey and Russell Hubright (SC Forestry Commission) Josh Walden (Center Attorney), Alex Singleton (Center Board), Ron Harris (USDA/NRCS), Steve Carruth (Kapstone Corporation), Steve Moore (SC Wildlife Federation), Jennie Stephens (Center ED), Gene Hundley (MWV), Ebonie Alexander (Black Family Land Trust), Mikki Sager (The Conservation Fund), Michelle Mapp (Lowcountry Housing Trust), Evelyn Whitesides and Dennis Mobley (USDA/NRCS), Alan McGregor (US Endowment).  (Not pictured – Abby Saunders, Charleston School of Law and Drew Lanham, Clemson University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.)