Ownership Changes and Harvesting Patterns Associated with the Forest Products Industry in West-Central Alabama from 1984 to 2014

  •  Seth David Hunt    
  •  Rebecca Barlow    
  •  John Kush    
  •  Larry Teeter    
  •  Conner Bailey    


Since the beginning of the 1980s, vertically integrated forest products companies have divested their forestland with much of the new ownership being real estate investment trusts (REITs) and timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs). These new landowners and their associated behavior of intensive timber management and higher and better use conversion has given rise to issues such as land-use change, fragmentation, and conservation. To better gauge harvesting patterns and ownership changes associated with the divestment of forestland by forest industry and the arrival of TIMOs and REITs on the forested landscape, eleven Landsat scenes were used to detect harvest activity within the Alabama counties of Bibb, Hale, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa from 1984 to 2014. Detected harvesting activity was paired with county parcel data and then classified based on landowner type: REITs, TIMOs, forest product industry, government, and non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners. Overall harvest trends showed a decrease in harvest rates from 1984 to 2005 with a slight increase in harvest rates after 2005. Per scene interval, acres harvested were highly variable for NIPF and relatively stable for forest industry during this time. Government ownership maintained relatively low and stable harvesting behavior throughout the study period. Acres harvested by REITs was relatively low. TIMOs showed an ever increasing rate of harvest within the study area until the last scene interval (2011-2014).

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