This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Open Conversations: Finding ways to improve communication between family forest landowners and consulting foresters




McCauley, Jace

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Alabama is comprised of 23 million acres of forestland, of which family forest landowners (FFLs) own 56 % of that acreage. Therefore, FFLs are vital to maintaining the quality and diversity of Alabama’s forests. However, FFLs possess varying attitudes towards management, value their land for different reasons, and have differing management objectives. In addition, FFLs are comprised of diverse backgrounds, own vastly different acreages, and fall within differing income brackets, all of which have been shown to affect management usage. This research aims to assess consulting foresters and FFLs in Alabama to learn why FFLs are hesitant to use consulting foresters for land management. It also aims to educate FFLs and consulting foresters in Alabama on better communicating their needs, services, and benefits. To study these two groups, a set of interviews and two surveys were used to collect perceptions, experiences, and needs. While consulting foresters are willing to work with smaller acreage, there are still constraints preventing management, and cost was mentioned by both groups. Still, FFLs are interested in consulting foresters' services, but many do not actively market toward FFLs. As a result, FFLs are not aware of the different types of forestry professionals, causing competition for consulting foresters who must be registered. Both consulting foresters and FFLs need to become more active in organizations, and consulting foresters need to adopt newer marketing techniques, while FFLs should seek more educational opportunities and opportunities to interact with consulting foresters directly.