Exploring Diversity in Forest Management Outlooks of African American Family Forest Landowners for Ensuring Sustainability of Forestry Resources in the Southern United States

  • Noah GoykeEmail author
  • Puneet Dwivedi
  • Sarah Hitchner
  • John Schelhas
  • Marc Thomas


African American forest landowners in the southern United States (US) are typically considered a homogenous group in current studies. Our research challenges this assumption by identifying four distinct forest management outlooks among African American forest landowners using Q Method. Sustainable Harvesters focus on balanced land use with a long-term outlook; Back 40ers appreciate the presence of forests on their property but focus on alternative land use; Land Use Pragmatists are also interested in alternative land use and primarily view forest as an economic resource; Recreationalists value their forestland not for economic value but as a place for personal use. Finally, Indecisive landowners are not sure about how to best manage their forestland. We argue that an understanding of different forest management outlooks will improve sustainable forest management by better targeting extension and outreach efforts for African American forest landowners.


African American Forest management Q Method Rural extension and outreach Southern United States 



Authors would like to express their gratitude to the 34 landowners who participated in our survey and especially to the six who welcomed us into their homes and the three landowners who provided expert opinions in designing the survey. We would also like to acknowledge the members of the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University Cooperative Extension who invited us to conduct the pile sorting exercise at the workshops.

Author Contributions

NG collected and analyzed the data and wrote the paper. PD conceptualized the idea, wrote the paper, and supervised the overall research. SH and JS conceptualized the research and conducted qualitative interviews. MT conceptualized the research and supervised data collection.


This research was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2016–38640-25382 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under sub-award number LS17–281.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Human Subject Research

Approved by the University of Georgia’s Internal Review Board (# STUDY00005338).

Conflict of Interest

The authors of this manuscript declare that they have no competing interests between the work presented in this manuscript and any other work in which they are engaged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Warnell School of Forestry and Natural ResourcesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Center for Integrative Conservation ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Southern Research Station, USDA Forest ServiceAthensUSA
  4. 4.Cooperative ExtensionFort Valley State UniversityFort ValleyUSA

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