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Characterizing Family Forest Owners: A Cluster Analysis Approach

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For policy implementation to promote better stewardship on family forestlands, it is necessary to understand what motivates landowners. This study characterizes family forest owners in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, based on their feelings about forest stewardship and their stated reasons for owning forestland. Multivariate cluster analysis suggests that family forest owners are, in fact, a diverse set of owners who can be grouped into three attitudinal types, namely, multiple-objective, nontimber, and timber. The multiple-objective ownership type was found to be the largest group (49.1% of respondents) with almost half the family forest owners in the sample population belonging to this category. Owners belonging to the timber cluster (29.4%) indicated only timber management and land investment as strong motivating factors behind their forestland ownership, whereas owners belonging to the nontimber cluster (21.5%) value the nonconsumptive uses of their forestland such as aesthetic values, biodiversity, recreation, and privacy.

Keywords: National Woodland Owner Survey; cluster analysis; family forest; landowner motivation; nonindustrial private forest owners

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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