More than 100 years ago, women were fighting wildfires in the Mendocino National Forest in California. And in 1910, Eloise B. Gerry became the first woman scientist hired at the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory. These trailblazing women would probably feel right at home today as members of the Women’s Forest Congress. But they would also be right to ask: “Why does the forest sector still have fewer than 20% participation by women?”
“When it comes to forestry, there is no denying the fact that it is a male-dominated sector. When it comes to forestland ownership, white Americans, again predominately men, are in positions of the greatest influence. The WFC wants to change all that and make sure our forests benefit from the skills women bring,” said Ebonie Alexander, Executive Director of the Virginia-based Black Family Land Trust (BFLT) and a member of the WFC Advisory Council. The BFLT is part of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) network. In 2019, AFF assumed the administrative, fundraising, policy advocacy, and technical support functions of the SFLR program.