This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Timber Barons, Taxes, and Technology: From Past to Present, an Examination of how Alabama’s Lumber History Foreshadowed Current Forestland Ownership Trends




Hunt, Seth

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


In the last twenty years the forest products industry has divested most of its forested landbase, and much of this land was in the Southeast. The majority of those divested acres are now owned by real estate investment trusts (REITs) and timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs). This shift in ownership has raised economic and ecological concerns as these new owners have objectives which are often based on short-term revenue generation rather than long-term land management. The introductory chapter provides a review of these changes. The remainder of this thesis, in three parts, seeks to elucidate how landownership changes could be impacting forests and landowners in west-central Alabama. First, an examination of the Kaul Lumber Company provides a historical example of how markets, taxes, and policy issues can have long-term ecological effects. Second, using Landsat imagery and tax parcel records, landownership changes and harvest activity over the last 30 years were identified for the west-central Alabama counties of Bibb, Hale, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa. Third, a survey was conducted to better understand leasing behavior and land management objectives of nonindustrial private forest landowners in the region.