Landscape dynamics of family forest owners

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


This special issue of Landscape & Urban Planning (LAND) “Landscape dynamics of family forest owners” represents a collection of approaches to describe and understand how family forest owners around the world, in the aggregate, influence and are influenced by landscape-scale land use dynamics. Also known as smallholders, small-scale owners, communal owners, or nonindustrial private forest owners (although these terms are not strictly interchangeable; Harrison et al., 2002, Fischer et al., 2010), family forest owners are the primary land managers for forest holdings which vary in size from a few acres to hectares. In both industrial and developing countries, the decisions these landowners make are influenced by both local and large-scale economic, environmental, and social processes, such as market price fluctuations, climate change, invasive pest spread, ownership parcelization, and changes in land tenure laws. And conversely, these individual-level land use decisions impact forest patterns at a variety of spatial and temporal scales, from village to continent.

Landscapes dominated by family-owned forests provide a vast array of important public benefits: climate mitigation, soil protection, water supply moderation; wood and nontimber forest products and employment; a scenic backdrop for rural tourism and outdoor recreation; and habitat for wildlife and game species. The land use decisions made by family forest owners, individually and in the aggregate, shape those landscapes and their ability to continue to provide these benefits. Though we have gained considerable insight into individual-level decisions, there remains a great need to understand how these individual decisions scale up to shape the landscape and the benefits it provides. This collection seeks to fill this void in our knowledge of landscape-scale interactions of family forest owners, their environment and economy, and society at large, and thus informing and improving forest management, conservation, and policy for forest sustainability and the livelihoods of family forest owners.

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Landscape and Urban Planning