Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 377–395 | Cite as

Variations in the Social Networks of Forest Owners: The Effect of Management Activity, Resource Professionals, and Ownership Size

  • Tatyana B. Ruseva
  • Tom P. Evans
  • Burnell C. Fischer
Research Paper


Social networks play an important role in the communication of information among forest owners and how owners process that information in making land management decisions. This article examines variations in the social network characteristics of family forest owners using survey data and interviews with 42 owners in south-central Indiana. We examine how network structure and content vary by harvesting activity, information sources, ownership attributes, sociodemographic characteristics, and location. Quantitative measures of network size and diversity, along with a qualitative understanding of network content and function are discussed and compared for active and passive forest managers. We find that active managers (people who had a recent timber harvest) had at least twice as many social ties related to forest management compared to passive managers, particularly after accounting for parcel ownership size, forest area, and total landholding size. Learning and service were the main functions of these networks, with learning being the most frequently cited reason for talking to others regardless of the management profile of forest owners. The study contributes to a growing interest in mixed-methods approaches to network studies and research on social networks in private forestry.


Ego networks Family forest owners Network structure Network diversity Network content 



We gratefully acknowledge support from the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, Indiana University, through funding from the Human and Social Dynamics program at the National Science Foundation (grant BCS0624178).

Supplementary material

11842_2014_9260_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (351 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 350 kb)


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tatyana B. Ruseva
    • 1
  • Tom P. Evans
    • 2
  • Burnell C. Fischer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Government and Justice StudiesAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.School of Public and Environmental Affairs, The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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