Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Natural Resources

Major Professor

Donald G. Hodges

Committee Members

Wayne K. Clatterbuck, J. Mark Fly, Randol G. Waters

Abstract

The Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee currently is experiencing widespread forest parcelization and changes in species composition as a result of changes in land use and ownership. These changes can be attributed partially to industrial forest land divestiture, the lingering effects of the 1998 – 2002 Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) epidemic, and expanding development due to increasing population growth. The region has recently become a focus of debate concerning land use change, land management practices, and the effects on biodiversity.

A stratified random sample of 1600 Nonindustrial Private Forest (NIPF) landowners owning 40 or more acres of forestland were surveyed obtaining a 39 percent response rate. The survey was undertaken to gain new insight on the socio-demographics of Plateau NIPF landowners and to understand their forest management objectives and intentions for future timber harvesting activities.

The findings reveal almost 50 percent of respondents were retired or employed as professionals and lived on or within 60 miles of their forest land. Ninety-one percent of all respondents had either purchased or inherited their forest land, and the majority indicated they intended to pass their forest land on to their heirs. The top three nonconsumptive ownership objectives were to enjoy scenery (m = 3.98), for peacefulness (m = 3.94), and to preserve nature (m = 3.83). Timber management was ranked as only moderately important (m = 2.60). Forty-five percent of all respondents indicated that they had previously sold or harvested timber from their forest land, but only 30 percent indicated they intended to sell timber in the future.

Logit regression (n = 438) and factor analysis (n = 344) were used to model the respondents’ willingness to sell timber in the future. NIPF landowners who indicated they would most likely consider a future timber sale had sold timber in the past, had a higher interest in timber production, had received forest management advice in the past, and had a higher interest in maintaining the health of their forest. Factor analysis revealed landowners most likely to consider selling timber in the future fit into three principle component groupings: 1) Improvers; 2) Investors; 3) or Legacy Owners.

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