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Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Understanding how forest area will change in response to competing land uses

Director’s Choice
A Tigercat 600 series versatile skidder, used in Georgia, USA.

Research findings suggest that higher timber rents in the Southeast can reduce the conversion of forest lands to development or other land uses. (U.S. Army photo by Randy Murray)


Strong economic growth in the southeastern U.S. has led to a shift in rural lands to urban uses, while changes in agricultural markets have driven the conversion of crop lands to forest uses. Economic theory suggests that higher timber values should discourage urbanization – but by how much?


Changing demands for urban and agricultural land uses can shift the amount of private forest land throughout the U.S. Economics would suggest that the timber value of forest land should influence the extent to which forest lands are converted to other uses, but these effects have not been demonstrated in previous studies. Using new land use monitoring approaches through the Forest Inventory and Analysis program, Southern Research Station scientists showed that strong timber markets and forest values reduce the conversion of forest land to urban or agricultural land uses in the southeastern U.S. This is the first study that links specific forest conditions to a land use transition analysis. Results demonstrate that strong timber markets can enhance the area of forests and alter patterns of land use change in areas undergoing development.

Principal Investigator
David N. Wear, Senior Research Forester
4855 - Center for Integrated Forest Science
Strategic Program Area
Resource Management and Use
Forest land use responses to wood product markets
Research Partners
Taek Joo Kim
John Coulston, Supervisory Research Forester
Ruhong Li