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Small-Area Family Forest Ownerships in the USA

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Snyder, Stephanie A.; Butler, Brett J.; Markowski-Lindsay, Marla

Year Published



Small-scale Forestry


Sixty percent of family forest ownerships in the United States of America (USA) own between 0.4 and 4.0 ha (1–9 ac). Yet, little is known about this segment of family forest ownerships because they are often excluded from data collection or analyses. We utilized national data for the USA collected through the National Woodland Owner Survey to examine small-area ownerships, as well as compare attributes of this ownership group to larger-area ownerships. Small-area ownerships are less active than ownerships of greater than 4.0 ha, but not inactive. Approximately 60% of small-area ownerships have undertaken at least one of the following activities in the previous 5 years: harvesting for personal use, treating invasive plants, reducing fire hazards, and reducing unwanted insects/diseases. While 74% of small-area ownerships rate wildlife habitat protection as an important ownership objective, only 11% have undertaken a wildlife habitat improvement project in the previous 5 years. Both small- and large- (> 4.0 ha) area ownership classes are most interested in the amenity aspects of woodland ownership, but small-area ownerships are significantly less interested in ownership for firewood, timber, recreation and hunting on their land than larger ownerships. Neither ownership class is very likely to have received professional advice about their forestland in the previous 5 years, but the percentage of small-area ownerships who have done so is half that of larger-area ownerships. Both area ownership classes want their forestland to remain forested in the future. Our findings suggest needs and opportunities to engage small-area forest landowners, but likely in different ways and on different topics than when dealing with larger-area ownerships.


Cross-boundary cooperation; Invasive forest plant treatment; National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS); Nonindustrial private forest owner (NIPF); Parcelization; Small-scale forestry


Snyder, Stephanie A.; Butler, Brett J.; Markowski-Lindsay, Marla. 2019. Small-Area Family Forest Ownerships in the USA. Small-scale Forestry. 18(1): 127-147.

Last updated on: February 26, 2019