An opportunity for NH women forest landowners to come together, learn, build skills, and connect.

a group of women standing in the woods

On March 8, 2024, over ninety women forest landowners who own land in and around New Hampshire gathered at the Women Landowner Summit to learn, build skills, and connect. It felt very fitting to gather in March, which is Women’s History Month; a time when women’s contributions to history are honored and their stories are shared. It was even more fitting that the Women Landowner Summit fell on International Women’s Day; a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Nationally, women are a large and growing part of the landowner population. The percentage of family forest ownerships where a woman is the primary decision maker doubled from 2006 to 2013 (from 11% to 22%). New Hampshire is 81% forested with 4.8 million acres of forestland and over 120,000 landowners privately own around 75% of that forestland. Many of those landowners are women. Whether they own land individually or jointly with a partner, spouse, or family, the management decisions women make on their forestland impacts the health of New Hampshire’s forests and will shape the benefits they provide in the form of timber resources, wildlife habitat, clean water, recreational access, and their resiliency to climate change.

map of land ownership around NH of summit attendees
Towns where Women Landowner Summit attendees own land in New Hampshire.

Simply put, women landowners are important decision-makers. However, research has indicated that women are less likely to take management actions, and the challenges of land ownership are more significant for women than men. This could be driven by a number of factors, but partly because outreach efforts have not reached women as successfully as men. In response to this need, UNH Extension, New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA), the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) and other partners have committed to increasing engagement with this underserved and underrepresented audience through the Women in the Woods program. The Women in the Woods program offers a variety of learning opportunities. One-day workshop topics have included chainsaw safety and maintenance, tree identification, winter wildlife tracking, logging with farm tractors, tool maintenance and sharpening, mushroom identification, and map and compass skills. 

The Women Landowner Summit provided landowners a unique opportunity to attend multiple educational sessions on topics including conservation planning, timber harvesting, learning about your land, monitoring for wildlife, tree and shrub identification, winter wildlife track and sign, forest management for insect biodiversity, and firewood marking. Participants also learned about additional educational resources, were introduced to a variety of natural resources organizations, heard from a panel of other women landowners, and were informed about management plan funding opportunities.

Women landowners who attended the Summit own properties of all sizes, totaling 8,626 acres of land in New Hampshire. These acres, and the decisions and actions that happen on them, add up to make a landscape scale impact. 

total acreage graph of women landowner summit attendees
Summit attendees own a combined total of 8,626 acres.

In addition to learning from natural resource professionals, the Summit provided an opportunity for this diverse group of landowners to make connections, learn from each other, and build community. Following the event, participants shared their thoughts about their experience. One attendee shared that the Summit "was so well thought out and a great networking opportunity" and another noted that it "was a wonderful experience to bring together like-minded women."

"This was an excellent way to spend International Women's Day! I can't wait to do more research into the topics that were introduced so I can responsibly manage my land for years to come!"

Sign up for the Women in the Woods newsletter to receive information on upcoming events and trainings, resources, and news relevant to your role as a woman landowner.

Check out some scenes from the Women Landowner Summit.

an audience of women watching a presentation
an audience of women watching a presentation
activities at the summit
women outside putting pink ribbon on a tree
woman marking a tree with pink tape
four women speaking on a panel
women looking at a twig
women walking a path along a lake
women walking through woods
women gathered around a tree looking at its buds and bark
women looking up at tree canopy
women pointing at tree bark
a group full of many women talking

Photos: UNH Extension & The Society for the Protection of NH Forests 

Funding for this program provided by a Landscape Scale Restoration Grant, U.S. Forest Service.

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Extension Field Specialist, Forest Resources
Phone: (603) 862-3883
Office: Cooperative Extension, Nesmith Hall Room 224, Durham, NH 03824