Indiana Family Forest Owners Rule!
If we are interested in the conservation of the forests and woods of the United States, we must be interested in those who control its fate: the forest and woodland owners. Woodland owners make decisions related to land use and forest management that impact the forest and, and these decisions influence the wealth of benefits these forests and woodlands provide, from timber supply to water supply to carbon sequestration to wildlife habitat.
The USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis program, through the Family Forest Research Center (FFRC; www.familyforestresearchcenter.org), conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS; www.fia.fs.fed.us/nwos/) to better understand: who owns the woodlands, why they own it, what they have done with it, and what do they intend to do with it. The results presented below are based on responses from 232 randomly selected woodland ownerships with 10+ acres in Indiana that participated in the NWOS between 2011 and 2013.
• Family Forest Owners Dominate: Woodland ownerships control 73% of Indiana’s woodland - more than any other ownership group.
• Size of Holdings Makes a Big Difference: The average woodland ownership in Indiana has 37 acres of wooded land. 54 percent of the ownerships have relatively small holdings between 1-9 acres, but 90% of the woodland area is owned by ownerships with 10 acres or more.
• Beauty, Wildlife, and Nature are What Matter: The most commonly cited reasons for owning woodland in Indiana are related to beauty, wildlife and nature protection. Passing land on to children or heirs is also important to Indiana landowners.
• They Love Their Land, but they are not Engaging: The vast majority of owners, 91%, agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I want my wooded land to stay wooded.” But most are not involved in traditional woodland management practices.
• They are Old(er): The average age of woodland owners in Indiana is 62 years with 40% of the woodland owned by people who are at least 65 years of age.
People interested in woodland conservation must also be interested in those who own the woodland. Across Indiana, families and individuals own a significant number of acres, and this land has great potential for conservation.
For more results from this survey, visit the U.S. Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey website at www.fia.fs.fed.us/nwos.
To learn more about the services and resources available to woodland and forest owners in your state, contact your local forestry agency or association (http://www.familyforestresearchcenter.org/landowners/).