Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

The Influence of Multiple Ownership Interests and Decision-Making Networks on the Management of Family Forest Lands: Evidence from the United States

  • Stephanie A. Snyder
  • Michael A. Kilgore
Research Paper


A national assessment of how the number of parcel owners influence family forest land management and use decisions in the US was conducted using a subset of the US Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey Dataset. Seventy-two percent of single parcel family forest land ownership respondents of at least 4.05 ha had multiple owners. The extent to which past land management practices and future intentions for the land are influenced by the number of owners of an individual parcel was evaluated. We also examined how landowner decision-making networks are related to past practices and future intentions. Contrary to previous findings, our research suggests that having more than one owner does not necessarily reduce the likelihood that a variety of different forest management activities, including commercial timber harvesting or wildlife habitat improvement, will occur. Moreover, we found that one-owner forested parcels are less likely to have experienced activities like harvesting, invasive plant removal, fire hazard reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, and cost-share program participation than parcels with two or more than two owners. We also found that family member involvement in landowner decision-making has a minimal effect on past and planned land management actions, while the involvement of a forester or land manager in decision-making increases the likelihood many land management actions have been or will be undertaken.


Undivided interest National Woodland Owner Survey Anti-commons Social capital Family forest Heir property NIPF 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station and the University of Minnesota’s Agricultural Experiment Station (Project MIN-42-054 and MIN-042-065), as well as Brett Butler (US Forest Service) and Jaketon Hewes (Family Forest Research Center—University of Massachusetts Amherst) for facilitating access to the National Woodland Owner Survey data. We are grateful for constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript from Brett Butler, David Kittredge, and Lynne Westphal.


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA Forest ServiceSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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