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Family Forest Owners See the Trees, Not the Forest

Photo of Family forestland owners.  Thinkstock.comFamily forestland owners. Thinkstock.comSnapshot : Family forest owners, people who own more forest land in the U.S. than any other group, do not perceive themselves as owning “forests.” Working with the Sustaining Family Forest Initiative and other partners, Forest Service scientists with the Family Forest Research Center have found that family forest owners’ perceptions focus on the trees, not the forest.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Butler, Brett J.  
Research Location : U.S.
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 843


Across the United States, more than half of the forests are privately owned and nearly two-thirds of these are owned by an estimated 10 million families, individuals, trusts, estates, and family partnerships, collectively called “family forest owners.” Working with the Sustaining Family Forest Initiative and other partners, scientists at the Family Forest Research Center, a joint project between the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have interviewed family forest owners from across the nation to better understand why they own land and what challenges they face. Through this work it has become apparent that family forest owners do not perceive that they own “forests,” rather they own trees, woods, and woodlots. This information is being incorporated into new outreach materials, including outreach associated with landowner assistance programs. This research increased understanding of family forest owners’ perceptions and behaviors, which will help program managers communicate in the right language and design more effective programs.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Yale University
  • USFS State and Private Forestry