Minority Landowner Highlights Conservation Partnership

The Southern Research Station reaches out to private landowners as an important and connected group of stakeholders whose decisions affect forests, the economy, the land base, wildlife, water, and other benefits for humans and the natural world. Recently Minority Landowner reprinted Involving Private Landowners in Reforesting the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. This article focuses on the connections among the Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research, GreenTrees, and private landowners, as well as other collaborators. We welcomed this opportunity to inform readers of Minority Landowner about opportunities to improve their forest land while generating additional income.

In the forest ownership dynamics section of the Southern Forest Futures Project, Forest Service scientists Brett Butler and David Wear report that private landowners own 86 percent of forest area in the Southern United States. Families or individuals hold two-thirds of southern private forest land. Fifty-nine percent of private forest owners hold fewer than 9 acres, but 60 percent of privately owned forests are in holdings of 100 acres or more. The average size of family forest holdings is 29 acres. Ongoing parcelization and fragmentation through estate dispersal and urbanization will continue to alter forest management in the South. Butler leads the National Woodland Owner Survey and provides the following information:

  • There are an estimated 4.3 million family forest ownerships across the Southern U.S. 
  • Of the total numbers of family forest ownerships across the South, the primary decision maker for an estimated 7 percent self-reports as being American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or two or more races. 

Of the total numbers of family forest ownerships across the South, the primary decision maker for an estimated 1 percent self-reports as being Hispanic or Latino.