Initial Summary Report to Respondent Landowners in Land-Decision Survey
Sources of information for making land-management decisions. Respondents stated that family and friends are the main sources of information, followed by printed information, neighbors, and private and government professionals. Tax accountants and sales representatives were not considered to be valuable sources of information for land-use decision making.
|Information Source||Very useful (%)||Somewhat useful (%)||Not useful (%)||Never used (%)||Number of responses|
|Privately contracted professionals||13||23||13||51||1780|
|Tax accountants, legal professionals||6||22||18||54||1779|
|Radio, television, newspapers||4||31||24||41||1789|
Government and non-government programs related to land use. The majority of landowners do not participate in government or non-government land-management programs. Many landowners are unfamiliar with these types of programs, although landowners are more familiar with the Classified Forest Program, Classified Reserve Program, and Wetland Reserve Program than other programs.
|Program||Used (%)||Heard of (%)||Looked into (%)||Never heard of (%)||Number of responses|
|Classified Reserve Program (CRP)||11||35||3||51||1818|
|Classified Forest Program (CFP)||9||43||5||43||1806|
|Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)||3||36||3||58||1805|
|Forestry cost share||2||15||2||81||1781|
|Wetland Reserve Program (WRP)||1||45||3||51||1781|
|Land trust easement||1||29||2||68||1771|
|Reforestation Tax Credit & Amortization||1||15||2||82||1760|
Tree harvesting. Respondents were asked about tree harvesting on their properties. Twenty-four percent (24%) had cut trees in the past 5 years. Of those who had cut trees, 54% cut sawlogs for commercial sale and 56% cut firewood for personal use.
The majority of respondents indicated that they had cut trees to remove mature trees, improve the quality of remaining trees, supply wood for their own use, or achieve objectives in their management plan. Some respondents indicated that they needed money or the price quoted to them for the timber was very or somewhat important in their decision to harvest. However, for the majority of respondents, the decision to harvest was not a direct result of current economic conditions, but rather was based on a longer time horizon and a goal to improve the quality of the forest. Professional foresters or natural resource professionals assisted in 13% of the harvests.
|Reason||Very important (%)||Somewhat important (%)||Not important (%)||Number of responses|
|Trees were mature||52||23||25||393|
|To improve the quality of remaining trees||49||32||19||411|
|Needed wood for my own use||33||26||41||420|
|To achieve objectives in my management plan||30||32||38||361|
|Needed the money||23||24||53||390|
|To improve wildlife habitat||22||40||38||374|
|The price was right||21||29||50||373|
|To clear land for conversion to another use||17||12||71||362|
|To improve scenic and recreational opportunities||12||21||67||371|
|To improve hunting opportunities||7||16||77||277|
|Neighbors logged adjacent tracts||5||7||88||366|
Forest regrowth. About 20% of respondents reported an increase in forest area on their land in the past 5 years. Of these respondents, the majority increased forest on less than 2 acres of their property, and the most converted land type was pasture. Of those respondents who reported forest regrowth on their property, the majority left their land alone and let it return to forest naturally, although a large percentage (39%) actively planted trees.
We asked the reasons why people planted trees. Responses show that people were mainly concerned with nature conservation and aesthetics. Economic incentives, advice from professionals, and encouragement from neighbors or conservation organizations are not considered to have significant impacts.
||Very important (%)||Somewhat important (%)||Not important (%)||Number of responses|
|To provide food and habitat for wildlife||60||24||16||406|
|To conserve the natural environment||56||25||19||399|
|To provide forest for future generations||54||23||23||369|
|To enhance scenic beauty of this land||46||22||32||373|
|To improve water quality by controlling erosion||37||27||36||346|
|Low-cost seedlings from the state were readily available||30||13||57||334|
|To provide a windbreak||24||26||50||333|
|I felt the land should be put into timber production||15||12||73||317|
|Govenment cost-share programs were readily available||10||8||82||309|
|Tax benefits were available||9||10||81||305|
|The land was too wet for agriculture||8||11||81||313|
|A professional forester advised me to do so||6||7||87||307|
|I had revenue from a timber sale to finance the reforestation||3||4||93||304|
|County educators advised me to do so||3||4||93||301|
|Seeing neighbors planting trees prompted me to do so||1||6||93||303|
|A land trust helped me do it||1||3||96||296|
Future plans. Nearly 80% of respondents would like their land to remain the same in the future. Others would like to see an increase in forest area, open space, or both. Concurrently, about 13% of respondents plan to increase the amount of forest on their land in the next 5 years. Most of these landowners are considering this due to government incentives and weather/flooding problems.
Satellite Image Analysis. Satellite data (30-meter resolution) were acquired for a number of dates between 1975 and 2006. The amount of forest cover was quantified for each date by classifying each image into forest or non-forest categories to enable a high accuracy with the final classification dataset. From this analysis, county-level forest trajectories were calculated for the 31-year period. As of 2006, the percentages of area forested in the survey counties were 12.7% in Decatur, 38.89% in Jennings, 54.79% in Monroe, 34.78% in Morgan, 38.22% in Scott, and 39.40% in Washington (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Forest (green) and non-forest (white) areas in Decatur, Jennings, Monroe, Morgan, Scott, and Washington counties in 2006