Clearing Land Title Generates the Greatest Economic Benefit
In late 2019, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (“Endowment”) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) commissioned a study to help quantify benefits derived from landowners participating in the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) program. The study was designed to identify monetary benefits that could potentially be recognized by SFLR participants. The undertaking considered hurdles such as heirs’ property impact, access to professional forestry and legal services, availability to timber and fiber markets and corresponding networks, and access to government cost-share and other financial assistance. "Land lift" or added value per acre that a landowner might expect was designated as the desired metric.
- Value of unencumbered property title
- Access to agricultural cost-share programs related to forestry
- Improved forest stand management
- Access to professional forestry services and broader forest product markets
The study confirmed that clearing title not only yields the greatest per acre value— up to $1,000 — but it is also foundational to unlocking other financial gains.
The complete study can be found here. Alicia Cramer, Senior Vice President at the Endowment and the project lead noted, “It's essential to all stakeholders, especially landowners and funders, to quantify the impact of their investments (time, effort and dollars) in support of African American forestland owners. The land lift identified in this report validates the need for continued efforts to address heirs' property issues and afford landowners the ability to create wealth and sustainably manage their lands for future generations.”
“The proof is in the pudding; this program works,” stated Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the Endowment. “SFLR has not only provided African American landowners with access to resources, sustainable forest management instruction, legal assistance, and other forms of support, but it has also added measurable value to those families’ bottom line. It’s my expectation that this program will continue to grow and thrive well into the next decade.”
About the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program:
The SFLR Program has been recognized with multiple awards, including the USDA Forest Service Regional Forester’s (Region 8) Honor Award for Delivering State and Private Forestry Programs in 2019; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships in 2018; and the USDA’s highest honor, the Abraham Lincoln Award for protecting natural resources in 2016. This past summer, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) became a key partner in the SFLR network and began a long-planned transition as the national coordinator for the work.