Updates & Blog

Southern state forestry agencies mobilize for equitable access to heart-healthy green spaces

African American woman running in a city park setting


SOUTHERN REGION, U.S. | In honor of American Heart Month in February, the members of the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) proudly announce their commitment to support heart health through equitable access to forests and green spaces. Heart disease remains a leading cause of mortality, and its impact on diverse communities demands a comprehensive approach to cardiovascular health. Research consistently demonstrates that exposure to nature can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and enhance overall cardiovascular health.

By working with local, regional and national partners, southern state forestry agencies are increasing tree cover in disadvantaged spaces and boosting equitable access to nature through the Urban & Community Forestry program.

“The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) included a historic $209 million investment in the Southern Region’s Urban & Community Forestry programs,” said Russell Bozeman, SGSF Chair and Mississippi State Forester. “This represents an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to heart-healthy environments. Our efforts are focused on making sure these investments make the greatest impact for the region’s underserved and disadvantaged communities.”

Some examples of Urban & Community Forestry projects being implemented in the South include:

By expanding opportunities for deeper connections to nature, state forestry agencies in the South are helping contribute to the health and wellness of all, ensuring these benefits are accessible to every individual, regardless of background or demographic. The Southern Group of State Foresters invites individuals, communities and organizations to join in this important effort by encouraging others to spend more time in nature and take advantage of the many health benefits trees provide. Learn more at HealthyTreesHealthyLives.org.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Chelsea Ealum
Communications Director
Southern Group of State Foresters
(850) 843-1170

State Agency Media Contacts


About the Southern Group of State Foresters:

The Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation representing state forestry agencies within the 13 southeastern United States, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. SGSF members collectively provide leadership, coordination, expertise and resources to sustain the economic, environmental, health and societal benefits of southern forests. This includes the delivery of regional support needed to address existing and emerging issues related to sustainable forest management, forest health, water resources, urban and community forestry, forest product markets, wildfire protection, conservation education and disaster response.