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Private forestland parcelization and development in Wisconsin's Northwoods: perceptions of resource-oriented stakeholders

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Gobster, Paul H.; Rickenbach, Mark G.

Year Published



Landscape and Urban Planning 69(2004): 165-182


Increases in the parcelization and development of private forestlands in the US and other countries have become a major concern of natural resource agencies and groups. This concern is particularly heightened in heavily forested areas such as Wisconsin's "Northwoods," where private lands make up a majority of the forest area and play a critical role in supplying economic, ecological, and quality of life values. As a part of the Forest Fragmentation Education Initiative, we assisted the non-governmental group 1OOO Friends of Wisconsin in identifying the range of perceptions and concerns about parcelization and development held by public land managers, conservation and environmental organizations, forest industry groups, non-industrial woodland owners, and other resource-oriented stakeholders (N = 182). Employing a qualitative methodology involving faciliated workshop discussion and thematic analysis, we identified critical themes in four main areas: (1) Patterns - parcelization and development are exhibiting a range of patterns on the forest landscape in terms of movement, distribution, size, and rate of change. (2) Drivers - the attractiveness of the Northwoods and people's concept of the good life, combined with changes in the economic, demographic, and technological aspects of society, are seen as causal agents behind increased parcelization and development. (3) Effects - while some aspects of parcelization and development might benefit residents and nature in the Northwoods, most effects are seen as negatively impacting recreation opportunities, forest health, local communities, the timber-based economies. (4) Solutions - an integrated strategy is needed to guide future growth and ameliorate the negative impacts of parcelization and development, including planning and regulation, taxes and incentives, acquisition and funding, and education and ethics. Implications for planning, research, and program development are noted.


Gobster, Paul H.; Rickenbach, Mark G. 2004. Private forestland parcelization and development in Wisconsin''s Northwoods: perceptions of resource-oriented stakeholders. Landscape and Urban Planning 69(2004): 165-182

Last updated on: August 11, 2006