Don’t Leave Your Forest Behind;
Keeping A Forest in the Family for Future Generations
More than 10 million acres of Virginia’s woodlands belong to nearly 374,000 family forest owners. And, 51% of these owners are ages 65 years or older. Some have owned their land for generations; others, only a few years. As they look ahead, many landowners want to keep their land in the family but don’t know where to begin or how to engage the next generation of owners. The upcoming “Family Forest Landowner” workshop series introduces concerned landowners to the options available to transfer their land and legacy to the next generation.
“Focusing on Forestland Transfer to Generation ‘NEXT’” is being offered July 29 and August 5 at the Moton Museum in Farmville. This two-day program will help family forest landowners successfully plan the transfer of their woodlands, intact, from one generation to the next.
Current and future owners of family woodlands will learn family communication basics, estate planning tools and succession planning strategies to help ensure their family woodland legacy.
Speakers include legal and financial experts experienced in estate planning, forest landowners who have worked through succession planning, and natural resource professionals who work with landowners to conserve and manage land.
“Few challenges faced by Virginia’s family forest landowners are more important than the concern of passing the family land and carrying its stewardship forward to the next generation,” said Mike Santucci, assistant director of forestland conservation with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Family forest landowners own their woodland for many reasons. A consistent theme is that nearly all of them express a deep connection with their land and a desire to ‘do the right thing.’ With many reasons for owning forestland, sometimes it’s difficult for current landowners to consider – what will happen to my forestland beyond my lifetime?”
Santucci continues: “While many landowners want to pass their forestland on to family members, few have started the process to do so. Only 2 – 3% have an estate plan or succession plan in place. Succession planning takes into account what happens to the land when ownership is passed forward. Without a succession plan, landowners stand to lose more than just the property out of the family. They risk their family heritage and a portion of the wealth they have accumulated over the years.”
“We’re on the verge of the largest intergenerational land transfer in Virginia’s history,” said Jason Fisher, extension forestry agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Central District region. “The management decisions made by family forest owners play a crucial role in maintaining a viable forestland base in Virginia. These family woodlands are relied upon for not only the sustained flow of forest products, but for invaluable natural benefits, such as clean air and water, wildlife habitat and overall quality of life.”
The workshop is co-sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the VDOF, with support from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tree Farm Committee, The Black Family Land Trust and the Piedmont Environmental Council.Family Lands Transition Workshop FinalFlier shortcourse-application
For more information, please go to http://tinyurl.com/vagennext or contact the Central District Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Program at 434.476.2147 or the VDOF at 434.220.9182.