Forest Landowner Conference turns spotlight on climate change

The recent Forest Landowner Conference underscored the critical importance of well-managed forestland and farmland in addressing some of challenges posed by climate change.

The two-day virtual conference, presented by The Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project in late October, offered woodland owners and farmers insights and tips on cultivating their land to nurture ecosystem resilience, as well as improve land retention and intergenerational wealth.

Approximately 50 people attended each session, highlighting some of the key takeaways below:

  • Soil health is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of farmland and woodland, and it is also a key factor in addressing climate change.
  • Woodland owners should look at their property through “rose-colored glasses” to gain a different perspective and mindset on their circumstances and the opportunities that their land offers.
  • Multiple benefits can result from effective forestland management, including healthier woodlands and habitats and cleaner air and water.
  • Discrimination has contributed to massive land loss over the past century among African Americans and socially disadvantaged communities and remains an issue of concern. This is most evident among woodland owners and farmers with smaller acreages who lack access to resources and economies of scale.
  • Landowners with smaller tracts of land must think “outside the box” and be open to multi-cropping and niche markets that provide them a better return on their investment of money, time and labor.
  • Landowners are urged to become involved in livestock registries, such as The Livestock Conservancy that protects endangered livestock and poultry breeds.
  • At the state and federal levels, there are many forestry, natural resource and agricultural agencies and programs that can help landowners identify and implement practices that will improve the sustainability and economic strength of their property.
  • The project continues to partner with an array of agencies and organizations that can help owners achieve their objectives for their land. For example, under a new partnership with the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the forestry project is helping to create a Carbon Farm Plan for a property owner in Halifax County that will include schedules for crop and grazing rotations and other conservation practices.

Roanoke Electric helped establish the project in 2013 to help families increase the income and asset value of family-owned forestland and encourages forest health, land retention and the opportunity to create intergenerational wealth.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., said he strongly supports the program’s mission.

“I share the project’s vision of building a robust system of forest owners in eastern North Carolina and ensuring that African-American landowners have access to the information and tools needed to adopt more sustainable forest management practices and resources offered by federal and state agencies.”

More information about the conference and recordings of its two sessions are accessible on the project’s website.