That's what I like about the South!

Don Staples dstaples at
Fri Feb 27 15:46:55 EST 1998

An abstract of an article written for a news letter I edit.


For all the natural and manmade plenty we have in this vast country, we
have only about 7% of the
world’s forests!  But much of the world’s  privately-owned forestland is
here - 40% to be exact.

In fact, 58% of this country’s forestland is privately owned.  In the
South, 89% is privately owned
and 94% of the timber harvested in the South comes from privately owned

Who are these private forest landowners?  Why do they own forestland and
what is happening to it. 
This commentary is from a report - The Private Forest - Land Owners of
the Southern United States,
1994 - written by Robert Moulton  and Thomas Birch, USDA Forest Service.

This information is important not only to the landowners but to others
as well.  Forestry consultants,
the forest industry, timber buyers, state foresters, extension
foresters, forest landowner associations,
and forestry suppliers need information about this group to provide
better services.  Government
entities from Congress to state and local boards need the information to
help determine programs
and policies.  The Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 requires
the number of private
landowners to be considered in allocating funds for cost-share
assistance like the Forestry Incentives
Program (FIP) and the Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP).

There are about 9.9 million private forestland owners in the U.S. with
4.9 million in the South.  The
number of private forest landowners was up 28% from 1978 to 1994 in both
the South and the
nation as a whole.  The South has the most private forest landowners -
50% in both studies. 
Individuals make up 95% of the forestland owners but hold only 61% of
the South’s private
forestland.  Most nonindustrial private forest landowners (NIPF) are

In the South, there are 4,680,000 individual private NIPF landowners. 
By occupation, white collar
workers make up 29 percent of the southern NIPF and own 19% of the
South’s private forestland. 
These professionals, business managers and other salaried workers whose
jobs do not involve
manual labor make up the largest group of southern forestland owners,
although by only a small
margin.  Retirees come in a close second at 27 percent of the owners
with 21 percent of the acreage. 
Blue-collar workers make up 16 percent of the owners with 5 percent of
the acreage.  The three
groups collectively make up 72 percent of the South’s forest landowners
and own 45 percent of the
acreage.  Farmers make up 7 percent of the NIPF landowners in the South
but own 8 percent of the
acreage.  Nationally, they make up 8 percent but own 16 percent of the

Many forestland owners are concerned about the fragmentation of this
nation’s forestland.  Between
1978 and 1994, forestland in tracts of less than 10 acres increased by
51 percent.  The 10 to 49 acre
class grew by 83 percent.  These increases came from tracts in the 100 
to 499 acre class which
decreased in size by 15 percent, and from the 500 to 999 acre class
which declined by 9 percent. 
Tracts of 1000 acres or more increased by 9 percent.

Most southern owners (38 percent) said they owned their land because it
was part of their residence
or farm  Eight Percent said they owned their forestland for farm or
domestic use such as pastures,
berries, firewood, etc.  Investment purposes came in at 12 percent.  The
most important reasons for
ownership, according to 6 percent of owners, were recreational and
aesthetic. Only 4 percent of the
Southern private forest landowners listed timber production s their
primary reasons for ownership. 
They own 35 percent of the South’s private forestland.

Nearly half of the South’s private forest landowners have harvested
timber, however.  The 45
percent who have own 78 percent of the acres.  The 55 percent of owners
who have not harvested
timber own only 22 percent of the acres.  Owners of 60 percent of t he
land said they expected to
harvest within the next 10 years.  only 12 percent of southern
forestland owners said they would
never harvest.

When asked what benefits they expected from ownership within the next 10
years, owners listed
aesthetics first (29%), investment second (27%) and farm and domestic
use third (17%).  All other
benefits, including recreation and income from timber were ranked s
important by less than 8
percent of owners.  Among those who owned the most acres, income from
timber was  first (41%)
and investment second (21%).

The  attitudes about timber harvesting remain positive, and that's a
very good trend for everyone.

Don Staples
UIN 4653335

My Ego Stroke:

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