Private Forest Owners in Alabama: Profiles and Holding Size Distribution
Type of DegreeThesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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A large portion of forestland in Alabama is privately owned. Thus private forest owners in Alabama play an important role in producing timber, providing forest recreation, protecting biodiversity, etc. Two topics regarding private forest ownership in Alabama are included in this thesis. The first study is about family forest owners which are a critical component of Alabama private forest owners. We used data of family forest owners in 1993 and 2002-2004 from the National Woodland Owner Surveys (NWOS) conducted by the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program (Birch 1996; Butler et al. 2005) to investigate changes in family forest ownership within the last decade. The results suggest that, compared to a decade ago, in general the owners are more educated and many family forest owners with smaller landholdings are younger even though owners with larger holdings are getting older. Their objectives for owning forestland are diversified and dynamic, but the importance of amenity values, legacy, recreation and the land as an investment are increasing. Examining the management activities of family forest owners, 85% of the family forestland is owned by people who have harvested trees, 28% of the family forestland is owned by people who have a written forest management plan, and 50% of the family forestland is owned by people who have sought forest management advice. The second study is a detailed analysis which focuses on private timberland ownership distribution in 55 counties (data of other 12 counties are not available in our study) in Alabama. Four different measures were employed to measure forestland distribution and the correspondingly estimated regression result suggests that the percentage of old population and rural population play an important role in forestland ownership distribution. Meanwhile, greater per capita income, higher percent of population below poverty and higher percent of forest cover tend to result in land consolidation while higher educational attainment denotes a tendency to resist forestland consolidation. Furthermore, population density, share of African population and average land quality index are not statistically significant in any of the four models.