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Forestry Sciences Laboratory
3041 Cornwallis Road
RTP, NC 27709
(919) 549-4011

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How will alternative futures be affected by changing demographics and values and how will these futures alter certain social and economic benefits in the South?


  • How are population, demographics, and values changing and what might these changes mean for forests futures?
  • How and where will population growth, changing demographics ownership and land use affect supply and demand for different types of forest-based recreation?
  • How and where might forest-based employment and income be affected by anticipated futures?

Subregional Issues

  • Increased use of federal and state lands resulting from growth in adjacent metropolitan areas(MAV)
  • Increased use of federal and state lands resulting from exclusive recreational development by new owners of private lands (MAV)
  • Increased afforestation for non-timber objectives (MAV)
  • Shift in jobs from timber to recreation (App-Cumb)
  • Wood energy markets impacts on employment (App-Cumb)
  • Changes in outdoor recreation and impacts on forests (especially public forests) (App-Cumb)
  • Conflicts in recreation (App-Cumb)
  • Decreasing timber production and increasing recreation from piedmont forests (Piedmont)
  • Changes in demographics of timber harvesting workforce and implications on supply of labor for traditional forest industry (Mid South)
  • Changing cultural attitudes toward forests and forest management associated with changing ethnic populations, especially Hispanics (Mid South)

Meta-Issue Managers

Karen Abt, Ken Cordell, and Mike Bowker, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service

Methods of Analysis

A. How are population, demographics and values changing and what might these changes mean for forests and their uses?
The South is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States in terms of population, economic activity and land development. The South is also one of the most rapidly changing regions in terms of the demographic makeup of its population. The purpose of this analysis will be to describe and interpret population, housing, associated development, demographic, economic, and other societal trends and futures across the scenarios defined for the 2010 Renewable Resources Planning Act Assessment. This work will provide 50-year projections of population totals and 30-year projections of population by demographic strata across the 3 IPCC scenarios adopted for the 2010 RPA Assessment. Both spatial and temporal scales will be analyzed and displayed. (These projections are also incorporated in land use and product demand forecasts.

B. How and where will population growth, changing demographics ownership and land use affect supply and demand for different types of forest-based recreation?
Forecasts of recreation demand developed for the three IPCC scenarios adapted to the 2010 RPA Assessment will be used to evaluate a range of likely futures for recreation in the South. These forecasts will be used to evaluate questions regarding the evolving scarcity of recreational opportunities, potential for congestion and conflict among recreation groups, and increasing pressure on public lands in the South

C. How and where might employment and income be affected by anticipated futures? This question can be broken into four separate components:
(1)What will the 'new' logging industry look like? (2) How will employment in traditional industries change as a result of forecast changes in final demands from these industries as well as competition for the timber resource from biofuels/energy industries? The current economic recession, combined with renewed federal subsidies and interest in biofuels/energy development could lead to long term structural changes within the traditional industries, permanently altering industry employment and income. (3) What will be the employment profiles of the new biofuels/energy industries? Will the shift from traditional to biofuels/energy industries move jobs and change total employment? (4) What is the future of employment/income which relies on forest-based recreation?

Forecasts will reveal shifts in timber harvests (geographically and over time). These shifts will correspond to changes in wood-using industry employment. In addition, continued changes in labor and capital productivity will alter employment even if the industry otherwise stays exactly the same. Response coefficients and multipliers developed previously for state-level analysis will be used, in addition to information from other sources, to provide qualitative estimates of changes in employment and income from the forecasts. In addition, recreation analysis from above will provide input on how recreation demand will vary by forecast.

Data and Information Sources

Principal data sources for A will include:

  • The Forest Service RPA population, demographics, housing, economic and land use trend and forecast data which is based on Census 2000, Census projections, IPCC scenario projections, and data products from Woods & Poole Economics, Inc. and their CEDDS data set, and other sources as needed.
  • Social tracking systems, such as the Pew Center's social trends.
  • National surveys such as the American Housing Survey, American Time Use Survey, National Personal Transportation Survey, and others.
  • Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) data bases covering legal immigration from abroad, estimates of net undocumented immigration, intra-country migration, net movement between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, and other regional population change forces.
  • Current estimates and spatial projections of population migration trends relative to land use changes, including FIA and NRI data, and land cover changes, e.g., NLCD.
  • Current Business Patterns and other economic census data.


We will produce a discussion of historical and forecasted changes in population, demographics and values in the South as well as historical and forecasted change in recreational uses and employment and income. Maps as well as tabular displays of forecasted changes will also be generated.

Potential cooperators

Robert Rummer and Janaki Alavalapati

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Last Modified: 04/03/2009