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Are Forest Disturbance Rates and Composition Influenced by Changing Ownerships, Conservation Easements, and Land Certification?

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This research examines the effect of recent landownership changes and new management stewardship mechanisms (e.g., forest certification and working forest conservation easements) on disturbance rates in Maine forests. We quantify forest disturbance rates between 2000 and 2007 and forest cover type composition in 2007, as detected by Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite imagery, and relate these to possible influencing factors including landowner type, ownership stability, forest certification, and conservation easements. The cover type map was evaluated for agreement with US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis ground plot data and the change map was evaluated using visual interpretation of random sample locations on multiple years of Landsat data and aerial photos. Between 2000 and 2007, 1.6 million ha of commercial forestland changed ownership. Investment landowner types, timber investment management organizations and real estate investment trusts, were found to have the highest disturbance rates, significantly higher than those for public and conservation forest landowner groups. Forestlands that changed owners had disturbance rates similar to those with stable landowners. Disturbance rates on certified and easement forestlands, compared with those on noncertified and noneasement land, indicated no significant differences at the statewide scale. Public and conservation forestlands were found to have a higher proportion of coniferous forest and a lower component of deciduous forest compared with privately owned forests in the state.

Keywords: Landsat; change detection; forest type mapping; normalized difference moisture index; remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-04-02

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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