3 Reasons Why it's Important for Women to Manage ForestlandMar 15, 2022
A decade ago, US women landownership doubled (from 11-22%, article link here). Does that mean women weren’t landowners before or are all of a sudden buying land?
It’s more likely an upgrade from co-owner or secondary ownership to the primary decision maker for their lands.
There COULD be more women purchasing land for the first time too, but the significant increase in statistics is likely due through inheritance. Commonly recognized women tend to outlive their male spouses and consequently WILL most likely inherit the family land management responsibilities.
Why does this matter….?
#1. In the Southeast, the majority of forests are privately owned by “non-industrial private forest landowners” (NIPF) (55% of private lands in Georgia are NIPF for example, article link attached). This can then lead to the assumption that women have the ultimate impact on what becomes of our forests:
Do they stay functioning working forests? – OR – Do they get sold and converted for another use?
The availability of wood for our supply chain in the forest industry; the continuation of ecological benefits such as clean water and air and the growing importance of carbon sequestration depends on our forests remain forests.
#2. The QUALITY of forests is just as important as the quantity we have. Even if after women inherit their forestlands and decide to keep them in the family, actively managing the timberland will:
- Increase revenue options
- Increase wildlife habitat
- Increase carbon sequestration
- Improve air and water quality
But if women do not actively manage their lands, they will likely become overcrowded forests which will:
- Reduce forest health with stressed trees
- Increase wildfire impacts
- Reduce wildlife forage
- Reduce revenue opportunities
#3. The final reason women should manage their forestlands…
Because we can.
There is no genetic disposition which make men better or more capable of landownership. It may seem “easier” for them simply because they have been more engaged with the activities on the land for longer. But anything new is always challenging and comes with a learning curve – whether you’re male or female. If you want landownership to be easier, then continue showing up to opportunities to increase your knowledge and put what you learn into action.
Whether you have recently inherited your family’s forested assets or are looking to start your own landownership journey… remember ownership is only one small piece of the puzzle and you – it's not your consultant's (although their opinion is valuable), or your spouse's or your son’s full responsibility to make the management decisions. I encourage family management sure, as long as you are also a part of the family discussion and expressing your desires and educated opinions.
If you’re in the position to learn from the “primary manager” before fully taking on the manager reigns…, do it. Ask questions. Get dirty. Find the boundaries. Find out what past management decisions were done and WHY they were done that way… and when it comes time for you to become the primary… I won’t say it’ll be smooth sailing, but you’ll feel MUCH MORE prepared.
Haven’t been involved with your forestland yet or not as engaged as you probably should be (or would like to be) but have no idea where to start?
That’s where Land & Ladies can step in and help you! We have a wide variety of programs and opportunities to offer women across the knowledge spectrum. From learning about various forest management regimes and landownership responsibilities to gaining the tools to find your best resources and ask the right questions.
Additionally check out your state’s forestry department events, forestry association and local NRCS for programs directly related to your region and location!
And after you start… share your story with us! We’re always excited to celebrate your journey with you and would love to share your story with others… to inspire other women in similar situations.
You can do this. We can do this.
Founder, Land & Ladies
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