To help other landowners and organizations have that opportunity Mahaffey has been working closely with Yale’s SFFI and other partner organizations to develop the growing network. [Her organization, the Forest Stewards Guild, recently took over coordination of the Women Owning Woodlands network (WOWnet) website
And momentum is growing.
Over the past few months the staff at SFFI has organized a Google Group online community that enables leaders in woodland owner outreach to stay in touch. “The group has been growing,” said Katherine Hollins
, program manager for SFFI and the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry. “People have been using the group to ask questions, to share resources, to let other members know about workshops, and to report back on how events have gone. It’s exactly what we wanted to be happening.”
Recently SFFI also organized a webinar for network members to showcase an example of peer learning used in estate planning workshops and discuss opportunities for tracking and evaluating programming.
“The key thing is that it really is a network
,” Mahaffey says. “We’re not trying to tell people this is the one way to do things. We’re trying to share resources and create a hub of information, of shared experiences, of answers on how can you do things that are more effective.”
hen the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative was created at Yale more than a decade ago, the goal was to help natural resource professionals better connect with the owners of private woodlands about sustainable land management. The stakes are potentially enormous; about a third of all forestland in the U.S. is owned by private individuals and families, and in most cases little was known about how they used their land or their long-term plans.
While many of these workshops and initiatives are framed within a regional context, Tyrrell says the work with the Women Owning Woodlands network is in the same vein.
“When we work with, say, the Great Plains Initiative on encouraging farmers to plant trees in riparian areas, it is a very place-based agenda,” she says. “But if you think about it, the work with women woodland owners is no different. It’s just a different slice of the landowner population — and a different slice of the professional organizations that are trying to work with them.
“And ultimately we’re encouraging them to adopt practices that will benefit the environment and the landowners themselves.”
n 2017 the Vermont Land Trust hosted a series of woodland walks as part of the organization’s 40th
At one of the privately owned properties, in Groton, Vt., three generations of a family were represented: an older couple that bought the land decades earlier; their children, including two sons who now take a more active role in management, such as occasional timber harvests; and their grandchildren. The family members reflected on the pivotal role this remote piece of land has played in their lives, and the joy of sharing it with succeeding generations.