assessment of sustainability of our forests

Southern Forest Resource Assessment

led by the USDA Forest Service's Southern Region and Southern Research Station in collaboration with the USEPA, US Fish & Wildlife, TVA, and state forestry agencies of the Southern United States

Broad Category: Social/Economic Factors

Question Manager: Tom Holmes

Question SOCIO-7: How do forests and their uses influence the quality of life in the South?

  1. Elaborate on all benefits, market and nonmarket, that are derived from forests.
  2. Examine the link between "forest-dependency" and various quality of life measures.
  3. Examine these effects at the sub-regional and community scales.
  4. Consider how the forest products industry has contributed to rural and community development.
  5. Examine how economic structure is influenced by different uses of forests.


Quality of life (QoL) refers to a general state of wellbeing experienced by members of society.  Societal QoL is comprised of both objective factors, such as employment, and subjective factors, such as “sense of place”.  The combination of objective and subjective factors obfuscates precise measurement and analysis of QoL issues.  However, relevant dimensions of QoL may be delineated, based on prior investigations reported in the literature, and considered for forested areas in the South. 

Various indicators of social health have been proposed to augment standard economic measures of wellbeing at the national and local levels.  Although a general theoretical model is not available to guide the collection and interpretation of empirical measures, lists of social indicators typically include variables such as employment, education, health, social pathologies and community cohesion.  Other tangible measures of QoL include migration patterns, based on the logic that people move to areas with high QoL, and the quality of the environment.  Although models to analyze QoL issues in southern forests are not available, indicators of various aspects of QoL will be addressed in this question.  In addition, this question will discuss available research on QoL indicators in other forested regions and at other scales.


Data Sources:

Bureau of the Census
Bureau of Labor Statistics
USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis
Other sources to be determined


Related Literature:

Beale, C. L. and K. M. Johnson.  1998.  The identification of recreational counties in nonmetropolitan areas of the USA.  Population Research and Policy Review 17: 37-53.

Beckley, T. M.  1995.  Community stability and the relationship between economic and social well-being in forest-dependent communities.  Society and Natural Resources 8:261-266.

Brandenburg, A. M. and M. S. Carroll.  1995.  Your place or mine?: The effect of place creation on environmental values and landscape meanings.  Society and Natural Resources 8:381-398.

Ferriss, A. L.  2000.  The quality of life among U.S. states.  Social Indicators Research 49:1-23.

Force, J. E., G. E. Machlis, L. Zhang and A. Kearney. 1993.  The relationship between timber production, local historical events, and community social change: a quantitative case study.  Forest Science 39: 722-742.

Johnson, K. M. and G. V. Fuguitt.  2000.  Continuity and change in rural migration patterns, 1950-1995.  Rural Sociology 65:27-49.

Miringoff, M. and M-L Miringoff.  1999.  The Social Health of the Nation.  Oxford University Press, New York.

Parkins, J.  1999.  Enhancing social indicators research in a forest-dependent community.  Forestry Chronicle 75:771-780.

Peterson, M and N. Malhotra.  2000.  Country segmentation based on objective quality-of-life measures.  International Marketing Review 17:56-73.

Power, M., A. Harper, M. Bullinger.  1999.  The World Health Organization WHOQOL-100: Tests of the Universality of Quality of Life in 15 Different Cultural Groups Worldwide.  Health Psychology 18:495-505.

Richmond, L. G. C. Filson, C. Paine, W. C. Pfeiffer and J. R. Taylor.  2000.  Non-farm rural Ontario residents perceived quality of life.  Social Indicators Research 50: 159-186.



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 modified: 5-JUL-2000