In the U.S. South, a forestry project helps Black families keep their land

By Carey L. Biron

HALIFAX, North Carolina, June 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A s a young man, James Baker left his hometown in North Carolina and forgot about the small farm and patch of woodland he and his seven brothers would later inherit.

“After high school and college, I left, and I never had any intentions of coming back to the farm or doing anything with it,” said Baker, who now lives on the property with one of his siblings, all of whom are in their 70s and 80s.

But a regional forestry program that aims to tackle a century of dramatic land loss among Black Americans helped Baker and his brothers see the potential of their woodland, which could soon start generating regular income from timber.

“We’ve learned there are other things that can be done, especially with the timberland … how to manage it, how to handle it in a way to maximize the income,” he said, standing behind the neat farmhouse built decades ago by his parents.