Model forest landowners in Alabama: are they different from typical landowners?
Family forests make up the majority of forest ownerships in Alabama. The public and private benefits of these forests can be enhanced with assistance from natural resource professionals. Yet only a small percentage of family forest owners have written management plans or make use of professional foresters. Community and social approaches to forestry try to address this gap by forming of forest landowner groups and initiating landowner-to-landowner extension programs. However it is unclear if these methods are reaching a larger group of landowners. Foresters have long been aware of a gap between the way they view forest land and the way it is viewed by many landowners. This gap is generally characterized as foresters emphasizing timber management versus landowners having multiple and diverse land ownership objectives. We hypothesize that there are even greater differences, and that the forestry community's idea of a model landowner may not fit well with the circumstances of m any forest landowners. If we understand the complex social and cultural differences between the forestry community's model landowners and typical forest landowners, we will be better able to take steps to increase the use of professional forestry assistance by family forest owners. We analyze representations of model forest landowners in landowner profiles in Alabama's leading forest landowner magazine focusing on landowner characteristics, ownership objectives, values, and management practices, and compare these to empirical data from a random sample of forest landowners in two Alabama counties and other studies of forest landowners.