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Why This Matters: The initiative is an intersectional approach to ensuring people can keep inherited family land and protect the local forests. Forests in the Mobile Bay region face threats to biodiversity due to human development, and heirs’ property owners are more vulnerable to losing their land to those who want to build or harvest timber from it. The impacts of forest loss can ripple beyond trees and harm freshwater ecosystems and drinking water sources too. As Jennie L. Stephens, the Chief Executive Officer of CHPP put it: “Heirs’ property impacts everyone because once the land is lost, the community is impacted.”
Of the many harsh lessons learned by Hurricane Katrina, when hurricanes and floods strike heirs’ property, it can be incredibly difficult for residents to receive aid because federal programs almost always require clear proof of title.
While heirs’ property is common for Black families on rural land in the South, it’s an issue that extends beyond these parameters. There are urban instances as well, and Stephens hopes to replicate the model with Native Americans and people in Appalachia facing similar issues with land ownership.
The collaborative initiative is based on a model created and implemented by CHPP, which has already helped families resolve more than 275 titles. It will provide landowners with legal support, forestry education, and access to funding for forest conservation
Forestland in the South Under Pressure: Almost 90% of forestland in the Southern US is privately owned, increasingly by people who don’t live there. According to a recent study in the Journal of Forestry, this makes these forests “particularly susceptible to fragmentation and land-use conversion.” An estimated 11-23 million acres of forestland will be lost to other land use by 2060, according to The Southern Forest Futures Project, but prioritizing forest protection and ensuring forests are resilient to fragmentation can help.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The earth is collapsing under Russia’s northeastern towns as global warming melts the permafrost beneath them. Permafrost occupies 65% of Russia’s landmass, making this massive thawing particularly destructive. “There isn’t a single settlement in Russia’s Arctic where you wouldn’t find a destroyed or deformed building,” said Alexey Maslakov, […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The White House announced Friday that President Biden will use his executive authority to restore protections for three national monuments drastically reduced during the Trump Administration. He will reestablish and increase the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, both of which are in Utah. The orders […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest and most diverse protected area, spanning dunes and towering mountains and home to half of the country’s bird species. Now, the Jordanian government plans to mine the reserve for copper, Al Jazeera reports. The reserve is currently under consideration for status as […]
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