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Forest Ownership Patterns

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American Society of Agronomy


Forests, whether public or private, provide the general public with countless goods and services. As it is the owners who ultimately decide the fate of these forests, it is important to understand forest ownership trends and patterns. As the results of political, economic, social, historic, and biophysical factors, forest ownership patterns vary considerably across the nation and across the urban–rural spectrum. For example, the eastern United States is dominated by private ownership,while the western United States is dominated by public ownerships. Across the urban–rural spectrum, federal and state lands tend to be in more rural areas, while private forest ownerships tend to be in closer proximity to urban areas. The urban–rural spectrum is also correlated with other ownership patterns such as size of family forest holdings, timber harvesting, and some reasons for owning land. The population pressures exerted across the urban–rural spectrum will influence the future of these lands through land use conversions and different values, desires, and expectations for lands depending upon where they are located.


forests; private opwnership; urban-rural


Butler, Brett J. 2012. Forest ownership patterns. In: Leband, David; Lockaby, Graeme; Zipperer, Wayne. Urban-rural interfaces: linking people and nature. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America : 117-125. Chapter 7.

Last updated on: August 1, 2018