Factors influencing forest management planning by private forest landowners
Planning is important it helps the landowner develop a more thorough understanding of the value of forestland. Formal recognition of the forests many values leads to more informed decision-making regarding land-use. A review of the literature on forest management planning and its relation to landowner behavior and timber harvesting is presented.
In 1990 the U.S. Congress recognized the importance of planning by passing the Forest Stewardship Act. A history of the Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) is presented. State-level data is analyzed to describe differences in the level of stewardship planning across states.
Case studies of eight states, having either high or low levels of success in encouraging stewardship planning are presented. State forestry officials were interviewed regarding the techniques used, impediments, and success factors observed in implementing their states' FSP. Each states approach to stewardship plan development is described.
An econometric model is developed to analyze causal factors that might lead to observed differences across states in the level of forest management planning, as measured by acreage under Forest Stewardship Plans. Factors including landowner characteristics, forest land characteristics, amenity values, and policy and information variables were tested. Results of the regression model found; base level of funding, Stewardship Incentive Program cost-share monies, agricultural property tax rates, number of forestry professionals, and region to be significant in explaining differences in the level of stewardship planning.
A qualitative analysis of state case study interviews revealed a number of factors that affected the level of stewardship planning. High performing states: had a history of providing private forest landowner services, had property tax reduction programs that required management plans, provided management planning services free-of-charge, and collaborated successfully with related federal and state agencies, woodland owner and conservation groups. Impediments to achieving high levels of stewardship planning included: lack of a prior history of stewardship planning, a confusing and time consuming administrative process for plan approvals, friction between state service foresters and consulting foresters, lack of a financial incentive for consulting foresters to promote stewardship planning, and a focus on plan quality versus the quantity of acreage brought into planning.