Strategies for successful engagement of African American landowners in forestry
Engaging African American landowners in forestry has been an enduring challenge because of historical discrimination, ownership issues such as heirs’ property, lack of experience with, and distrust of, the forestry profession, limited use of technical and financial assistance, and difficulties and predatory practices associated with harvesting timber. The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program has achieved success through eight long-term, community-based projects in seven states in the US South. We conducted qualitative research with a diverse range of participants and stakeholders in the three longest-running projects to identify lessons for success. These lessons include addressing obstacles and constraints identified by prior research, establishing communitybased networks to provide coordinated education and outreach, 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.