Grant – Georgia SIC – Georgia Heirssfiprogram2020-07-31T07:24:51-04:00
GEORGIA SFI IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE
Collaborates with Georgia Heirs Property Law Center
Georgia Landowner Academy Supports Underserved Communities in Georgia
Why this Project Matters
This program, led by the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, is focused on addressing the challenges families face relating to heirs’ property. Heirs’ property is the untold story behind blight and generational poverty throughout Georgia. Heirs’ property refers to a home or land that passes from generation to generation without a legally designated owner. This results in ownership being divided among all living descendants in a family.
This unstable form of ownership limits a family’s ability to build generational wealth. Although African Americans had amassed 15 million acres/6 million hectares of land in the U.S. South between 1865 and 1919, today 97% of those lands have been lost, according to the Land Trust Alliance.
Forestry offers many older farmers, landowners not living on their land, and multiple generations of heirs who want to keep their land together, an opportunity to protect their land assets while generating income from their land. Managed forestry can help landowners prosper in retirement and through multiple generations. It can also be a powerful tool to help resolve heirs’ property issues and ownership questions and offers a means to help preserve the important social and cultural heritage of African American land ownership.
Why is SFI Involved?
The SFI Community Engagement Grant Program is supporting this project. It is an extension of an SFI-supported Georgia Heirs Property Law Center project from 2018. The current project has a more refined and targeted set of landowners, taking the project beyond education to provide land title and deed support. Through the Georgia Landowner Academy, the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center engages new, inexperienced, and underserved landowners in an SFI-aligned technical assistance program. This helps prepare them to develop land management plans, engage the U.S. Forest Service, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and other professionals. Ultimately, the project will help families sustainably manage their forestland as an asset that builds generational wealth.
SFI is committed to identifying ways to support engaging African American forest owners in the U.S. South, including through land retention. SFI, as an organization that stands for future forests, believes we can collaborate to help keep forests as forests and ensure that they are responsibly managed to provide conservation values as well as financial benefits to the African Americans who own these forestlands.
How the Project Builds SFI Community Engagement
This project leverages the engagement of the Georgia SFI Implementation Committee, the Georgia Forestry Commission, the University of Georgia, Fort Valley Cooperative Extension and Clemson University. Together, they work with project participants on best forest management practices that align with SFI standards.
The Georgia Property Law Center provides extensive services to underserved rural communities and maintains an intentional focus on multiple generational and minority landowners. These are priorities shared with SFI. Since being established 2015, the Center, solely or in collaboration with nonprofit and governmental partners, has conducted 167 community outreach programs, trainings, and stakeholder meetings in 35 counties and trained approximately 5,580 individuals throughout Georgia to increase understanding of heirs’ property. The Center has completed 67 estate plans for clients. The Center, in collaboration with private attorneys and pro bono title companies, has reviewed titles for 157 tracts of land collectively valued at over $10 million.
This partnership includes lawyers, researchers, conservationists, government, and SFI Program Participants.
Project lead: Georgia Heirs Property Law Center
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Georgia SFI Implementation Committee
Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council
Fort Valley State University Cooperative Extension Program
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities supports related work in multiple landscapes, including Southside Virginia.
About the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center
Recognizing the need for prevention, education, and remediation of heirs’ property led to the creation of the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, Inc. The Center has served Georgia’s heirs’ property owners, nonprofits, and municipalities since 2015. The Center is a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to increasing generational wealth, social justice, and community stability by securing and preserving property rights of low- and moderate‑income Georgians. The Center’s services include title clearing, will creation, estate planning, and connecting clients with programs to increase the value of their land and homes. Staff travel throughout the state from offices in Atlanta, Athens, and Macon.
Dear SFI Community,
I’d like to share an update from SFI on our strategies to ensure smooth operations as well as some adjustments we have made with regards to upcoming events in light of COVID-19. The following reflects our best efforts to keep our teams and our interactions with our community as safe and healthy as possible, and to provide you with some certainty with regards to upcoming events and dates.
REACHING SFI STAFF
SFI staff continue to be fully operational and able to support any needs or questions you may have about SFI programs. In order to ensure the health and safety of our team, all SFI employees are currently working remotely and we have the systems in place to allow us to be fully accessible by email, phone, and video call. You can find contact information for staff on our website or can send general inquiries to email@example.com.
SFI AUDIT GUIDANCE
SFI has issued updated guidance regarding audit restrictions due to COVID-19. We recognize that other requirements related to implementing the SFI Standards, such as logger training, may be disrupted while travel and gatherings are restricted. SFI will issue further guidance as warranted. Questions about audits or standard requirements should be directed to Gregor Macintosh, SFI Senior Director of Standards, at Gregor.firstname.lastname@example.org.
SFI/PLT MEETINGS AND WORKSHOPS
In order to prioritize the health and safety of our community and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, SFI is canceling all scheduled in-person meetings and workshops through June, with alternative virtual arrangements being developed, as follows:
PROJECT LEARNING TREE CANADA GREEN JOBS SUMMIT
The planned March 23-24 Summit has been redesigned as an e-summit on March 23, bringing youth together from across Canada to discuss green career pathways.
CONSERVATION IMPACT SOUNDING BOARD WORKSHOP
The planned May 20-21 workshop will be redesigned as a webinar on May 20 focused on the intersection of Conservation Impact research and the developing 2022 SFI Standards, with a particular focus on carbon and climate change.
PROJECT LEARNING TREE COORDINATORS’ CONFERENCE
The planned June 8-12 conference in Bremerton, WA, has been postponed until 2021 at the same location. In lieu of the 2020 conference, plans are underway to host a one-day virtual event on June 10 or 11 offering professional development and networking to the PLT Coordinators and partners.
STANDARD REVISION WORKSHOPS
These May/June workshops were designed as regional opportunities to comment on proposed revisions and enhancements to the SFI Standards. SFI still plans to release the next draft Standards by May 1 and conduct a 60-day comment period through the end of June. Instead of the in-person workshops, we will conduct dedicated webinars focused on specific themes and requirements in the Standards, as follows:
Logger Training and Education
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Conservation of Biological Diversity
Chain of Custody, SFI Labels and Claims, and Controversial Sources
SFI IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE REGIONAL MEETINGS
These May/June meetings were planned to coincide with the Standard Revision Workshops and were designed to provide opportunities for SIC members to engage on bi-national SFI priorities and share best practices across committees. These will instead be conducted as regional webinars, with dates coming soon.
Join SFI’s E-Summit, Growing Solutions, to share ideas about how sustainably managed forests, and products sourced from those forests, are great tools in moving towards shared sustainability goals.
This year, SFI is hosting a one-day E-Summit on October 22 to bring our network together to engage around the work SFI is doing across its 4 pillars to achieve our mission of advancing sustainability through forest-focused collaborations.
We appreciate your continued support of SFI and look forward to connecting with you through one of these many opportunities.