The age of forest landowners across the country is increasing while the size of the parcels they own is shrinking — and that has state, federal and private experts fearing for the long-term health of millions of acres of U.S. forests.
The concerns of forestry professionals are more subtle than the typical worries over large-scale development: As the parcels of land get smaller, the people who own them might not have the same commitment to the forests as the previous landowners.
“Our alarm bells are starting to go off, not because landowners are suddenly older but because it’s been going on long enough now that we are really beginning to see the impacts,” said Mary Sisock, assistant professor of extension forestry at the University of Vermont, who has worked on the issue across the country.
Owners of smaller parcels are less likely to invest in forestry management plans, Sisock said, and managing for wildlife is more difficult than on larger plots. And once the land gets cut up, it’s more likely it will be developed and never again be a working forest, she said.
Brett Butler, coordinator of the U.S. Forest Service’s National Woodland Survey, said there’s a common misconception that the majority of forestland is owned by the government. Nationally, more than half of the 766 million acres of forestland is owned privately by proprietors whose average age is 62.5.
From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/experts-fear-for-long-term-health-of-us-forests/2014/12/07/0f37abf4-7e4b-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html?utm_source=WIT121214&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=WeekInTrees&wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1