DARIEN, GA, August 17, 2023 – The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network (SFLR) will hold its Tenth Anniversary Landowner Conference on August 22-24, 2023. This year’s theme is Land, Legacy & Family: Celebrating a Decade of African American Land Protection. Attendees will gather at The Faith Complex in Brunswick, Georgia.
The conference, held annually, provides an unparalleled opportunity for landowners to learn about the newest ideas and trends in forest management and land retention. “Since its inception, SFLR has assisted more than 1,600 forest landowners in managing and preserving more than 102,000 acres,” said Cheryl Peterson of SFLR anchor organization McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development S.E.E.D. “Our conference aims to bring landowners together to network, foster relationships, and share their experiences and challenges. We also want to highlight where the network has been, where we are now, and where we want to be moving forward.”
SFLR is honored to welcome U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack, who will be the conference keynote speaker this year. Other speakers include Victor Harris, Publisher of Minority Landowner Magazine; Faith Rivers James, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League; John Pollock, Esq., of the Public Justice Center; Olivia Smith, Esq., of the SR Law Group; Arthur Tripp, Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency for Georgia; USDA’s State Conservationists from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina; and leaders from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the USDA Forest Service, and others.
Event sessions will include impact presentations from landowners from SFLR network sites and multiple panel discussions related to sustainable forestry management, farm policy legislation, generational considerations, and the future of land ownership. In addition, participants are invited to join workshop discussions on various topics, including property surveying, easement, boundaries, access, encroachment, and deeds; wood innovations; and heirs’ property estate planning and wills.
From the beginning, SFLR has improved forest management and forest retention by connecting African American landowners to established networks of forestry support, including federal and state government programs, businesses, and non-profit conservation, legal, community development, and Black social justice organizations.
McIntosh S.E.E.D., located in Darien, Georgia, is serving as the host site for the conference. The SFLR networks’ seven other anchor organizations will be in attendance. These include the Black Family Land Trust, The Roanoke Center/Roanoke Cooperative, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Limited Resource Landowner Education and Assistance Network (LRLEAN), Winston County Self-Help Cooperative, The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Prairie View A&M University.
SFLR was launched with assistance from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA Forest Service. The goal was to help rural Black landowners address heirs’ property and land retention issues and understand the value of responsibly managing forest land. Since then, additional supporters focused on redressing Black land loss have included the American Forest Foundation, Inc., JPB Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and Doris Duke Foundation.
Trusted community-based organizations with strong connections to minority families and institutions are the core of the network. These organizations sustain relationships of trust, assist and educate landowners, broker forestry services, and monitor landowner progress toward forest management.
For more information, please contact Nissa Weisser at [email protected] or at (256) 867 5026.