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The Role of Forest Resources to Support Improved Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Communities

Sustainable Tourism - USDA Logo - McIntire-Stennis College of Natural Resources

Management of forest resources generally aims to conserve the natural environment, optimize timber production and allow appropriate outdoor recreation use. In recent times, however, management of forests also includes appropriate tourism entrepreneurial uses to supplement or sustain local livelihoods and stimulate economic development.

Researchers at the College of Natural Resources seek to understand how tourism based on natural and rural resources, such as agritourism, can help individuals to create sustainable livelihoods through micro-entrepreneurship. They are currently examining how these programs are supported through community leaders planning, policy-making and partnership building efforts.

This project will help increase understanding of how individuals relate to natural resources in ways that support their lands and their communities’ livelihoods. It will also explore new ways to make forested lands more instrumental in revitalizing rural economies and improving community well-being.


Duarte B. Morais (Director)
Carla Barbieri 
Whitney Knollenberg 


Researchers are working with the chamber of commerce to evaluate visitors’ experiences at local events and festivals. A total of 25 North Carolina county Tourism Development Authorities invested funds from local occupancy tax revenues to promote nature and farm-based tourism.


North Carolina’s conservation, environmental education, tourism and Extension field employees are trained on agritourism and nature-based tourism’s impact on consumers’ food purchasing, children’s agricultural literacy and the economic role of tourism and recreation.

  • 80 nature-based and farm-based tourism micro-entrepreneurs in North Carolina were mentored through this project.
  • 25 North Carolina counties are receiving support for local agencies, tourism entrepreneurs and landowners.
  • 20,000 video views aimed at educating the public about visiting working lands.

A McIntire-Stennis supported project

About McIntire-Stennis

The McIntire-Stennis program, a unique federal-state partnership, cultivates and delivers forestry and natural resource innovations for a better future. By advancing research and education that increases the understanding of emerging challenges and fosters the development of relevant solutions, the McIntire-Stennis program has ensured healthy resilient forests and communities and an exceptional natural resources workforce since 1962.

View or download  the printable PDF  page of the project