Are core forest landowners falling in the gap among USFS NWOS surveys focused on small wood lot owners, urban tree owners, and large-scale corporations?
Although the NWOS, released regularly since 1993, is the government’s most thorough assessment of family forest owners in the United States, FLA believes the methodology and summary reporting inaccurately portray family forest landowners and forests. As a result, skewed information is disseminated to the media, NGOs, and policymakers, all of which accept it at face value.
To provide an unbiased review of the NWOS, the Forest Landowner Foundation hired Responsive Management Services and Chase Statistics to produce a technical review, assessing the methodology and reporting of the NWOS. The result of the assessment is a report detailing the findings and recommendations for future reporting on family forest landowners in America.
In February 2019 FLA’s board of directors met in Washington with U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen and Jim Hubbard, USDA Under Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, to advocate for better representation of core family forest landowners in surveys and statistics released by the NWOS. Recommendations presented for improving the methodology and representation of family forest landowners at various acreage levels was well received and is under consideration by the USFS. FLA will continue to work with the USFS at all levels to ensure that fair representations of family forest owners are presented in data and reports.
In addition, FLA recently completed its own survey of nearly 600 private forest landowners that more accurately portrays core family forest landowners.
This report is a follow-up to “Narrative Gone Wrong,” diving deeper into how the statistics of family forest landowners generated from the NWOS are misleading in terms of family forest ownership or management in the United States. The survey has driven both administrative decisions and conservation policy, and as a result, has shaped public perception of family-owned forests in America. However, FLA is concerned that the survey and its results are not an accurate depiction of forest landowners; rather it is a representation of small woodland owners.