Woodland Owner Tipping Point


I am in the process of reading the book The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell. The concept and first few chapters have me thinking about woodland owners. Tipping point can be defined as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The book starts out talking about how researchers have looked back to see what the tipping point was in fashion trends, disease outbreaks and even restaurant popularity. They suggest three rules for reaching the tipping point – the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. To put it simply, find the right person or subject, package it the right way, and be aware of your situation and environment.

How do landowners prioritize what they want to do and what motivates them to make a forest management decision or act on management recommendation? What is their tipping point?

The first time I met with one of my favorite landowners they did not want anything to do with invasive plants. They had other plans for their property. They wanted trails, food plots, planted prairie and maybe some Forest Stand Improvement. They were getting advice on these other topics from other resource professionals. I felt the information I provided them on invasive plants was not sticking. Maybe invasive plants were not the right subject, maybe I did not present it the right way, and maybe the landowners were not aware of the problems or threats caused by invasive plants. Whatever the problem, I did not trigger a tipping point for the landowner in regards to invasive plants.

They worked on other projects for a few years, but eventually they hit the tipping point on invasive plants. They now aggressively control invasive plants on their property and sponsor and promote Brown County Nature Daze, an invasive species awareness and control field day for landowners across the state. I still don’t know what the tipping point was, but I suspect it was a combination of landowner priorities and awareness.

One of the main themes in The Tipping Point is trying to identify what makes someone or something reach the tipping point. By knowing where the tipping point is you can be better prepared to make decisions or act when the time comes. The Woodland Steward Newsletter helps landowners be prepared when they hit their tipping point. The information in the Woodland Steward Newsletter helps you as the landowner make informed decisions, and prepares you for upcoming events, issues, and woodland management related problems.

As you read this newsletter, think about your tipping points. When do you plan to harvest timber and why? What is happening to your land beyond your life? When will invasive plants interfere with your enjoyment of your land? Will you have the right to manage your land the way you want in the future? Will the Woodland Steward Newsletter be around in the future to provide information and guidance on woodland management? Being informed and aware will help you be prepared for forest landowner tipping points.

Enjoy your woodland.

Dan Shaver

WSI President


PS - The tipping point for the last question can be avoided by making a donation to the Woodland Steward Newsletter in the envelope provide with this newsletter. Your support is needed and appreciated.