Federal Grant Will Help Inform
Family Forest Owners About Land Options

Roughly a third of all forestland in the U.S. is owned by private individuals or families. And in most cases, experts say, developing long-term management strategies isn’t a priority for these property owners — a fact that leaves vast expanses of property vulnerable to degradation, fragmentation and development.

It is for that reason the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative (SFFI) was launched a decade ago. Since 2003 the group — which is coordinated by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the U.S. Forest Service — has provided natural resource professionals across the country with tools to engage these landowners about opportunities for sustainable management and conservation.
US Forest Ownership Map[1]
U.S. Forest Service
Nearly one-third of all forestland in the U.S. — 42 percent if you exclude Alaska — is owned by private individuals or families.
With a new $600,000 federal grant, the SFFI has a chance to reach more of these families and individuals, and to protect even more land for the long term.

While the SFFI already hosts workshops and webinars to train conservation and forestry professionals in engaging landowners, the new funding will help the organization hone its message and train a far greater number of professionals to more effectively communicate the benefits of land stewardship.

According to a 2007 SFFI report, about 4.2 million individuals and unincorporated groups of individuals — such as families, family estates, and trusts — own forest parcels of 10 acres or larger. Of those owners, about 20 percent are actively involved and aware of their land management options, says Mary Tyrrell, executive director of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry at F&ES and project manager of the SFFI. The major challenge, she says, is identifying the other 80 percent of private owners and demonstrating to them how management strategies can be in their best interests.

“If we can influence hundreds of organizations, they can then reach thousands of landowners, and exponentially increase the number of owners participating in stewardship and conservation activities,” Tyrrell says.
– Kevin Dennehy    kevin.dennehy@yale.edu    203 436-4842
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PUBLISHED: October 9, 2013
 

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