Using a Multi-method Approach to Better Understanding Pennsylvania's Forest Landowners

This study, first begun in 2006, continues to identify concerns, issues, attitudes, and plans towards forest management in Pennsylvania. We conducted mail surveys of forest landowners (defined as those who owned 1 acre or more of forest land). The sample list was generated from review and selection of cases on each Plat Map in each.

Funding source: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry

Most forest landowner research has focused on motivations, knowledge, and concerns about management of their forests. In large part, this body of literature is traceable to pioneering work by Kingsley and his colleagues and has continued with the National Woodland Owner Surveys. The latter data set provides critical information about forest inventory, uses, and landowner attitudes. We review this material, over time, to identify major trends and to establish the basis for further work.

Because the Bureau of Forestry (BoF) had interest in generalizing to subregions, we drew a sample of 100 cases per county (half of the sample identified by the Service Foresters) based on acreage owned. This latter sample facilitated comparative analysis. By having a large enough sample base, we avoided typical problems of small cell size associated with fewer cases. We employed standard mail survey methodology, with multiple mailings and personalization associated with a Total Design Methodology.

Survey questions were designed to address the major themes identified in our collaborations with the BoF:

  • disposition of current standing inventory/volume
  • harvesting issues and concerns
  • impacts of development and regulations;
  • attitudes and perceptions about management and harvesting
  • availability of technical assistance
  • future plans
  • marketing

On the basis of this effort, working with the BoF we will develop protocols for conducting annual surveys of forest landowners (including re-contacting a subsample and augmenting it with new contacts) and bi-annual field surveys. This effort will generate a longitudinal perspective on forestland issues in Pennsylvania. It will also create the opportunity to respond to evolving issues in resource management affecting private forestlands in the Commonwealth while helping to build a strong collaborative working relationship between the Bureau and the Human Dimensions Unit at PSU.

More Information

Best Management Practices for Pennsylvania Forests (DNCR)