The social structure of family and farm forestry in Alabama
Social research on, and programs for, forest landowners in the United States has tended to view them as individuals, and to be oriented toward transferring new knowledge, technical assistance, fi nancial assistance, and even cultural content to autonomous forest landowners. However, social scientists have long recognized that a great deal of human experience is relational, not individual, and that it is important to study the patterns of relationships among individuals. Social relationships are structured according to history, proximity, interests, class, race, and ethnicity, gender, and power; and the structure of forest values and knowledge is strongly infl uenced by these social relationships. Forestry in Alabama takes place primarily on private lands, mostly family owned. While past research has given us good descriptions of the characteristics and values of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners, including family and farm forest landowners, we know very little about their social relationships. This paper reports ongoing research in two Alabama counties on the household and family structure of forest ownership, historical patterns of land ownership and use, social networks, forest values and knowledge, economic and institutional relationships, and forest practices of NIPF landowners. The two counties, Macon and Escambia, have different historical race and class relationships that have given the private forestry sector of each a unique social structure.