Motivations for Family Forestland Parcelization in the Catskill/Delaware Watersheds of New York
Fragmentation and loss of forestland in the rural Northeast is increasing, often preceded by parcelization. To understand why landowners parcelize and sell their land, we surveyed forestland owners in the Catskill-Delaware watersheds who did parcelize as well as those whose property remains intact. Owners of parcelized properties were, on average, older; more likely to be retired; and reported lower incomes than owners of intact properties, but both groups identified property taxes, aging, lack of interest in forest ownership among family members, and personal circumstances as concerns in owning forestland and reasons for parcelization. Forestry activities, such as management assistance, and timber markets were not important. Many farms contain significant forest acreage so forest parcelization may often be a secondary effect of agricultural decline. Forest policies should account for these drivers as they attempt to decrease parcelization and the resulting forest fragmentation.
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