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Proximal Association of Land Management Preferences: Evidence from Family Forest Owners

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Aguilar, Francisco X.; Cai, Zhen; Butler, Brett

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Individual behavior is influenced by factors intrinsic to the decision-maker but also associated with other individuals and their ownerships with such relationship intensified by geographic proximity. The land management literature is scarce in the spatially integrated analysis of biophysical and socio-economic data. Localized land management decisions are likely driven by spatially-explicit but often unobserved resource conditions, influenced by an individual's own characteristics, proximal lands and fellow owners. This study examined stated choices over the management of family-owned forests as an example of a resource that captures strong pecuniary and non-pecuniary values with identifiable decision makers. An autoregressive model controlled for spatially autocorrelated willingness-to-harvest (WTH) responses using a sample of residential and absentee family forest owners from the U.S. State of Missouri. WTH responses were largely explained by affective, cognitive and experience variables including timber production objectives and past harvest experience. Demographic variables, including income and age, were associated with WTH and helped define socially-proximal groups. The group of closest identity was comprised of resident males over 55 years of age with annual income of at least $50,000. Spatially-explicit models showed that indirect impacts, capturing spillover associations, on average accounted for 14% of total marginal impacts among statistically significant explanatory variables. We argue that not all proximal family forest owners are equal and owners-in-absentia have discernible differences in WTH preferences with important implications for public policy and future research.


Aguilar, Francisco X.; Cai, Zhen; Butler, Brett. 2017. Proximal Association of Land Management Preferences: Evidence from Family Forest Owners. PLOS ONE. 12(1): e0169667-. 20 p.

Last updated on: December 13, 2017