South Carolina WOW (Women Owning Woodlands) Network
Why this Project Matters
In the United States, private families and individuals own 58% of the nation’s forested land, and for 22% of private family or individual woodland ownership, a woman is the primary decision maker. Evidence suggests that women will play a large role in the future of forests, making final end-of-life land use decisions that could lead to conservation or development. Forestry remains a male-dominated field in a professional, personal, and social sense, which means that women may lack experience and knowledge with woodland ownership and management.
Ownership objectives among women who purchase or inherit woodlands vary, ranging from privacy and aesthetic enjoyment to income from timber extraction. Led by the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee, a Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) Network in South Carolina is recruiting, engaging, and teaching female participants about sustainable forest management. Preparing women to take a more active role in management of family forests will provide the skills needed to manage forests sustainably.
Why is SFI Involved?
The SFI Community Engagement Grant Program is supporting this project. Encouraging gender diversity in the forest sector is an SFI priority. SFI is a leader in encouraging women in the forest sector, and in mentoring young women and students. The 2018 SFI Annual Conference featured a number of panels and events for and led by women leaders at all career stages. Both our SFI Leadership Team and SFI Board of Directors has broad female representation and the 18-member SFI Board of Directors includes broad female representation.
This project also has a strong youth education component focused on young women and girls. Youth education is another SFI priority. SFI offers teacher training and engages students in environmental education throughProject Learning Tree (PLT) activities. PLT is an initiative of SFI that uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase youth understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. PLT activities will be incorporated in the project.
How the Project Builds SFI Community Engagement
This project has three focus areas: leveraging the engagement of SFI Implementation Committeesto enrich the link between people and forests, engaging and educating young women and girls, and training and educating current and future forest practitioners.
This project will utilize the network and expertise of the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee to advance objectives of the SFI Community Grant Program. The South Carolina committee will be a valuable, reliable resource for providing local logistical support for WOW network activities. The committee will also provide technical support to program facilitators and educational opportunities for project participants.
To encourage an interest in forestry among women from a younger age, scholarships will be offered to 10 female high school students to attend the South Carolina 4-H Forestry Clinic. This weekend-long event is an excellent opportunity for high school aged youth to learn more about forestry and forest practices. During the clinic, participants gain hands-on experience from Clemson Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Professionals. The clinic focuses on tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, topographic map reading, forest health and other forestry skills.
Future forest practitioners will be exposed to successful WOW networks from across the country that have generously shared their stories and program formats on the Women Owning Woodlands website. Emphasis is being placed on designing a program that attracts and holds women’s interest. The project will include training sessions for WOW facilitators prior to scheduled events to broaden their facilitation skills and provide a format for successful WOW event design.
This partnership includes educators, researchers, natural resource professionals, and SFI Program Participants.
- Project lead: South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Clemson Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
- Sabine and Waters Inc.
- Sanders Tree Farm
- South Carolina Forestry Foundation