Do property tax benefits for forest landowners work? A review of effectiveness at retaining and promoting active management of private forests

Abstract

Over the past several decades, concern about loss of forest-based ecosystem services has caused all fifty states to adopt programs to lower property taxes on enrolled private forestland. Although there has been a moderate amount of research on the effectiveness of these preferential forest property tax programs (PFPTPs), most studies only assess individual states, explore perceptions without an empirical basis, or present seemingly contradictory findings. This manuscript presents a systematic review of literature to determine the strength of evidence supporting PFPTPs’ effectiveness at retaining and also promoting active management of private forests. There is moderate evidence that PFPTPs reduce forest land-use change, parcelization, or sales, although the effect apparently is relatively weak. There is very little evidence that PFPTPs encourage more active forest management. To design a PFPTP that does more to retain forests, studies indicate that a PFPTP may need fewer requirements and rules, whereas to encourage active management a PFPTP may need more. Thus, greater clarity of policy goals will help determine which approach is merited.

  • Citation: Frey, Gregory E. 2023. Do property tax benefits for forest landowners work? A review of effectiveness at retaining and promoting active management of private forests. Landscape and Urban Planning. 231(2): 104647-. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2022.104647.
  • Keywords: Policy effectiveness, Preferential forest property tax programs, Family forest owners,
  • Posted Date: December 1, 2022
  • Modified Date: December 5, 2022
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