Despite improvements over the last 50 years, the Central Appalachian Coalfields region of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, remain among the most impoverished areas in the United States. Once strongly focused on mining, forestry, agriculture and heavy/chemical industry, the region is well-positioned to embrace a vibrant, diverse economy including manufacturing, service industries, renewable energy development, tourism, and a revived forest products industry.
Experts in economic modeling, rural sociology, ecology, forestry, tourism, and policy, are collaborating with local practitioners of community economic development who understand the unique culture, opportunities, and constraints of the Central Appalachian coalfields. For example, how might some of the over two million acres of former mined areas that may be suitable for reforestation be restored to create a climate-smart, ecologically connected landscape that maximizes economic and social well-being?
This team is made possible in part by the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Its mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through the preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.