Mobile Basin Heirs' Property Support Initiative: Q&A With Lisa Morden, Kimberly-Clark
The Mobile Basin Heirs' Property Support Initiative will help families in the Mobile Basin of Mississippi protect and keep their forestland. The two-year project was launched in October 2021 by the Center for Heirs' Property Preservation™ and the Mississippi Center for Justice with support from WWF and Kimberly-Clark.
The new initiative provides a combination of legal services, information, and access to financial and forestry resources to help Mississippians resolve land title issues that disproportionately affect Black families and often lead to loss of property, wealth, and forest resources.
We sat down with Lisa Morden, vice president of safety, sustainability & occupational health at Kimberly-Clark, to discuss the project.
Why are you supporting this initiative, and what do you hope it will achieve?
The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™ and the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) are leading vital work in communities across the U.S. southeast — including near two of the communities where Kimberly-Clark has operations in Mobile, Alabama, and Corinth, Mississippi. Care underpins everything we do at Kimberly-Clark, and supporting heirs’ property owners is certainly in line with our values in this regard.
In addition, the southern U.S. forests that Kimberly-Clark relies on to make our essential products are being lost to unsustainable development at an increasing rate, and we know that heirs’ property can be particularly vulnerable to that trend. Helping these property owners secure clear title to their ancestral land enables them to protect, care for, and benefit from that land, while also advancing our responsible fiber sourcing and climate goals.
It is truly a privilege to support the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™, MCJ, and WWF as they advance this important work, with all of the social and environmental benefits it creates.
What are the biggest misconceptions about the issue?
We’ll leave it to the experts at the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™ and the Mississippi Center for Justice to speak to misconceptions about heirs’ property and instead highlight the general lack of awareness of the issue and the detrimental impacts it has had on historically underserved communities and forests in the U.S. southeast.
Heirs’ property in the U.S. and other forms of insecure land tenure elsewhere in the world are key drivers of socioeconomic inequities and environmental degradation. However, these issues are not well known and understood outside of the impacted communities. As a company that cares about the health of the world’s forests and the communities they support, we are thrilled to use our global platform to help bring greater attention to this important issue.
What gives you hope?
The power of this incredible partnership with the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™, MCJ, and WWF gives us hope! The missions of these three organizations align perfectly with our purpose of better care for a better world, and we are so excited about the official launch of the Mobile Basin Heirs’ Property Support Initiative and our work together to help historically underserved families in Mississippi protect and keep their forestland, build generational wealth, and promote productive, sustainably managed forests.
At the same time, we know that the issue of insecure land tenure and its links to forest loss and degradation isn’t unique to landowners in Mississippi. While our initial investment in this pilot is focused on helping property owners in the Mobile Bay basin, we hope that the learnings can be applied to future programs designed to help support land rights amongst other underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world.
It's an honor to partner with the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation™, MCJ, and WWF, and we hope that our combined efforts can help drive much-needed systems change that has the power to positively impact the lives of families in Mississippi for generations to come.
This post does not necessarily represent the views of WWF.