Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network (SFLR)

Due to a history of discrimination, African American landowners often have not had the same access to support programs or markets as their white counterparts. As a result, they have less incentive to manage family forests for profit and forest health than other landowners. This challenge presents an opportunity for minority landowners to increase family income and land asset value through improved sustainable forest management, with a broader goal of land ownership retention.

Sustainable forestry provides a way for African American landowners to maintain their deep and often ancestral ties with the land, while at the same time derive income from their holdings and keep it in the family for generations to come.

The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network (SFLR) improves forest management by connecting African American landowners to established networks of forestry support including federal and state government programs, businesses, and nonprofit conservation, legal, and community development organizations. 

The hubs of these networks are trusted community-based organizations with strong connections to minority families and institutions. These organizations sustain relationships of trust, assist and educate landowners, broker forestry services, and monitor landowner progress toward forest management.

Together with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA Forest Service, the Endowment committed millions to fund programs assisting African American families in restoring and securing ownership of forestland in the southern United States. During the summer of 2019, 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. AFF will work to help reach additional landowners and support policy efforts to curb African American land loss.

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Photography credit: James Edward Mills, Joy Trip Project.

Media featuring SFLR

Leadership Nature Podcast

Tune in to Series #7 of Tom Davidson’s Leadership Nature Podcast series featuring the voices of the SFLR Network. The series offers diverse perspectives on how SFLR empowers African-American families to retain land ownership, enhance forest health, & build wealth.

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