Recent Survey Reveals Interesting Information about Private Landowners
A recent survey shows some interesting information about small forest landowners. The National Woodland Owners Survey (NWOS), conducted by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory & Analysis program, provided insight into the nation’s family forest ownerships. The data indicated that there are nearly 23 million woodland owners in the United States, responsible for 283 million acres of forestland — that’s more forestland than is owned by the federal government or the forest products industry.
The NWOS collected data from more than 10,000 landowners over the past three years. Landowners answered questions to determine the characteristics of their land, why they own it, how they’ve managed it, and what their future plans are.
What’s most interesting is that only seven percent of family forest owners throughout the United States are implementing a management plan to keep their woodlands healthy and productive. A forest management plan is an important tool to combat the increasing risk of damage done to forests by bugs, disease, catastrophic fire, flooding, drought and storms. Thoughtful, active stewardship is essential to the health of the forests.
Forest management plans provide landowners with the information they need to manage their forests for a variety of products and services, not just timber production. Forest management plans are intended to:
- Provide a “road map” to help forest landowners meet their objectives and manage their land sustainably for the future.
- Convey information and guidance to others, including heirs or subsequent owners.
- Help forest landowners meet the “written management plan” eligibility requirements for: cost share and financial incentive programs, “Stewardship Forest” recognition, Certification by the American Tree Farm System, Forest Certification, tax reduction to “current use” or “forestland” forestry property tax classification.
With good stewardship through the implementation of a forest management plan, private forest lands could better provide the need for clean water and air, healthy thriving populations of fish and wildlife, the maintenance of rare plants and animals, quality outdoor recreational experiences, and forest products. Good stewardship contributes to the natural beauty, guards against soil erosion and depletion of soil productivity, and protects wetlands. Good stewardship also helps to protect forests from insects, diseases, wildfire, overgrazing, and poor resource management. By adding to the health of private forest land and all the plants, animals and other organisms which live there, private landowners add to the well-being of their neighbors, their local community, the country, and the earth as a whole.
Every part of a forest management plan relates to your landowner objectives, which is why these are the most critical part of any stewardship plan. So start today: think about your reasons for owning land. What do you want to get from your land — firewood, hunting opportunities, a place to recreate or just the satisfaction that you are contributing to open-land conservation? Whatever your reasons are, make them count!
To learn more about the National Woodland Owner Survey, visit www.fia.fs.fed.us/nwos
To learn more about creating a forest management plan for your forest visit the Forest Stewardship Program website in the Small Forest Landowner Office, or click here.