Increasing Practice of Sustainable Forestry Among Minority and Limited-Resource Forest Landowners in Georgia

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $260,888.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Puneet Dwivedi
University of Georgia

Information Products


  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Crop Production: forest/woodlot management

    Proposal abstract:

    Many African American forest landowners in southern states face problems associated with heirs’ property. These problems are rooted in structural patterns of discrimination against African American forest landowners, but continue due to several factors: (1) the complexity of resolving longstanding heirs’ property issues, (2) a tendency not to view or manage family forestland as a productive asset, (3) lack of market access, and (4) lack of awareness of and access to technical and financial assistance. These problems have received limited research attention in several southern states, but we still lack even basic data for problem definition and strategy development in Georgia. Sustainable management of forest lands owned by African American landowners requires clear title to land, families working as a unit to develop objectives for their land, knowledge of existing land use potential, participation in technical and financial assistance programs, and supportive relationships with other landowners and natural resource professionals.

    Our project has provided critical, yet missing, information on African American landowners in Georgia and will help in developing a more subtle understanding of historical circumstances and current situations faced by African American forest landowners relative to heirs’ property issues and sustainable forest management. This project will result in direct benefits for African American forest landowners by developing pathways for transitions to sustainable land ownership and management, promoting landowner engagement with professional assistance, and building a new network of organizations and key individuals interested in working with African American landowners in Georgia. These activities will enable landowners to obtain assistance in clearing land titles, planning for inter-generational land transfer, clarifying their land management objectives, and understanding opportunities for receiving regular income through production of timber and non-timber forest products. It will also enhance forest-based ecosystem services at the regional level.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) To document broad characteristics of African American forest landowners and their landholdings in South Central Georgia: acreage owned, type of ownership, length (or origin) of ownership, level of past land management, future land management objectives, interactions with land management professionals, etc. through face-to-face interviews of about 300 landowners by FVSU undergraduate students using a structured questionnaire.

    2) To document details about the land management constraints faced by African American landowners in South Central Georgia and record nuanced information about the history, knowledge, cultural importance, and emotional value of land to landowners by conducting 40 in-depth ethnographic semi-structured interviews.

    3) To conduct economic modeling to determine any differences in profits between sustainable forest management practices and current forest management schemes based on suitable forest sampling and modeling.

    4) To collaboratively produce and widely disseminate extension literature resulting from our research results to relevant stakeholder groups using workshops and social media.

    5) To build a network of institutions interested in collaboratively developing a long-term program to address heirs’ property and capacity building of African American family forest landowners in Georgia.

    6) To build capacity of six undergraduate students, one doctoral student, and one Postdoctoral

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.