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Legacy Planning for Forest Landowners

A multi-generational family look at a pond in their woods.

Forests and farmland are valued for many reasons such as wildlife, privacy, recreation, timber, hunting, and scenery. Unfortunately, these rural lands are most vulnerable to land use change (being converted to some other land use) during intergenerational transfer. Without proper planning, and without strong ties to the land, many heirs are compelled by high property values, taxes or family discord to sell the land. This is a major force behind the statewide loss of nearly 300,000 forested acres since the 1970s.

Legacy planning provides landowners with a path to help them keep their land intact, in forest, and in family ownership. Legacy planning entails traditional estate planning (wills, trusts, etc.) along with engaging multiple generations in decision-making, management, work and play to build stronger ties with the land and within the family. A common barrier for landowners to legacy planning is accessing good planning tools and confidence in knowing where to start.

To meet this need, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Forestry have joined forces to develop and deliver the Generation NEXT Program. The Generation NEXT Program includes workshops and webinars, a book and other print resources, and videos to help forest landowners with legacy planning.


Program Coordinator