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Individual Highlight

Understanding the National Woodland Owners Survey

Photo of Forest Ownership map. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Forest Ownership map. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : An estimated 11 million family forest ownerships control 36 percent of the forestland across the United States, more land than any other ownership group. The Forestry Inventory and Analysis program conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey to understand: who these owners are; why they own their land; what they have done with it in the past; and what they intend to do with it in the future.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Butler, Brett J.  
Research Location : National
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1118


The latest results from the National Woodland Owner Survey have been recently published in a series of journal articles, Forest Service technical reports, online tools, and more popular outlets, such as landowner magazines. Major findings from this work, looking just at family forest owners with 10-plus acres, show: they have an average holding size of 67 acres; they primarily own their land for amenity reasons associated with beauty, privacy, wildlife, and nature protection; only 13 percent have a written forest management plan and only 20 percent have recently received forest management advice; nearly half of the acres are owned by people 65 or older, portending a large transfer of land in the not-too-distant future, and 22 percent of the owners are women, a near doubling from the previous survey.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • University of Massachusetts

Program Areas