Jeffrey P. Prestemon

Project Leader
P.O. Box 12254
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2254
Phone: 919-549-4033

Current Research

Principal study areas: (i) economic and statistical analysis of forest-based disturbances, (ii) international trade, and (iii) timber market structure and function. A major focus of disturbance research is to understand the production of wildfire and its management, and to expand understanding of effective approaches to reducing the occurrences of green crimes. Markets research evaluates domestic and international forest product and timber price relationships. Trade research primarily seeks to identify the role of the U.S. forest sector in world markets.

Research Interests

The economics of forest based disturbances—wildfire, tropical cyclones, insects, diseases

Understanding human-ignited wildfires

Illegal wood trade and green crimes

National and global forest product markets and trade modeling

Why This Research is Important

Understanding how humans intervene intentionally and unintentionally intervene in forests, markets, and disturbance processes can improve policies and programs that seek to maximize public and private well-being. Scientific analyses of disturbances, markets, and trade can also provide platforms for testing hypotheses and broader theories related to biophysical processes, landowner behavior, criminal activity, potentially advancing knowledge in related fields of inquiry.


Ph.D. in Forest Economics, 1994
University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S. in Forest Economics, 1989
North Carolina State University
B.S. in Forest Resource Management, 1983
Iowa State University

Professional Experience

Project Leader and Senior Research Forester, Economics and Policy Research (SRS-4804), Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Research Forester, Economics of Forest Protection and Management (SRS-4851)/Economics and Policy Research (SRS-4804), Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Post-doctoral Economist, Economics of Forest Protection and Management (SRS-4851), Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Research Associate, Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Assistant, Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Assistant, Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University
Volunteer, U.S. Peace Corps, Honduras
Laboratory Technician, Iowa State University

Professional Organizations

  • International Journal of Wildland Fire, Associate Editor (2012—2019)
  • Forest Science, Associate Editor (2004—2011)
  • Forest Policy and Economics, Associate Editor (2002—2006)

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

A Scientist Finds that the Lacey Act Amendment of 2008 Works to Limit Illegal Wood Imports (2015)
SRS-2015-247 Forest Service scientist Jeffrey Prestemon evaluated U.S. import trade data from countries that are suspected sources of illegally obtained wood. Using statistical analysis, results showed that the quantity of tropical lumber and hardwood plywood imports from such countries in Asia and Latin America were reduced by double-digit percentages while prices were increased.

Connecting future residential construction and lumber demand in the United States (2018)
SRS-2018-55 Housing starts can be predicted by the rate of overall economic growth, and such a prediction informs estimates of future softwood lumber consumption in the U.S.

Fire in the Southern Appalachians: Understanding Impacts, Interventions, and Future Fire Events (2020)
SRS-2020-57 Of all the documented fires in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, between 1992 to 2017, the Chimney Tops 2 fire accounts for more than half of the total area burned. The Chimney Tops 2 fire was unlike any other in recent decades in the Southern Appalachians. A team of SRS researchers examined wildfire and controlled burns in the Southern Appalachians over this period and explored potential future changes in both. 

Future Wildfire in the South will be Driven by Society as well as Climate Change (2016)
SRS-2016-177 The area burned by wildfire is likely to change over the coming decades, report Forest Service scientists and their partners. The shifts are due to climate change and changes in land use, human populations, and economic activity. Across the southern U.S., the area burned by lightning-caused wildfire will probably increase by 34 percent, while the area burned by human-caused fires will decrease by 6 percent. The total will increase by 4 percent, with substantial variations across states, ecological regions, and wide uncertainty around these projected median levels.

Global and Regional Forest Area Projections Using an Updated Environmental Kuznets Curve Model (2020)
FPL-2020-99 Forest resources are critical to environmental, economic, and social development. Therefore, understanding how global forest area will evolve in the future is important. This study used an updated Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) model to project total forest area through the year 2100 in 168 countries, using variables including income, rural population density, and the size of the labor force under different world visions of economic and demographic changes represented under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).

Global and Regional Outlooks for Planted Forest Area Based Quadratic Relationships with Per Capita Income (2020)
FPL-2020-98 This study provides insight into the prospective planted forest area futures through the year 2100 in various countries, aggregated into major regions and the world, using the estimated quadratic relationships between per capita income and planted forest area, and compared with the past published projections based on a linear relationship.

Helping federal agencies manage fire budgets (2011)
Budgeting for wildfire suppression is increasingly difficult for federal for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior. In the past, fire suppression activities were often funded at the expense of other agency programs. The FLAME Act of 2009, which provides funding for wildfire suppression, also presents the challenge of accurately estimating fire suppression costs as far as 3 years out. Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists are improving tools to make the estimates needed for FLAME Act funding.

The Forest Service Leads an Interagency Team to Better Understand How Wildfires are Ignited (2014)
SRS-2014-157 Forest Service, Department of Interior, and state land management agencies collaborated in a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy science team to better understand trends and causes of wildfires. The resulting assessment document was designed to uncover likely avenues for advancing research and development, assisting wildland managers and policy makers in reducing the overall costs and losses from unwanted wildfires.

Understanding the Effects of Increased Use of Wood Energy on Timber and Wood Product Markets (2019)
SRS-2019-46 The development of new markets for wood products has potentially important impacts on the American public and taxpayers: competition with existing industries could increase or decrease outputs and potentially increase income to forest landowners, making forests more profitable and thus retained as forestland. This study helps better understand such impacts on wood products markets and the use and management of forest resources.?

Why Have smoking-caused wildfires declined in frequency (2014)
SRS-2014-159 The number of wildfires caused by smoking has declined by 90 percent on national forests since 1980, yet little is known about why, when most other causes have not declined so precipitously. Collaborative research between the Forest Service scientists and the National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates that one-tenth of the decline is attributable to the reduction in adult smoking rates, one-fourth to the emergence of less fire prone "fire-safe" cigarettes, while nearly half is likely due to improved wildfire investigation methods.

Wild American Ginseng Shows Indications of Economic Overharvest (2019)
SRS-2019-25 Overharvest can occur in open access marine fisheries, leading to lower total economic profits. Could the same occur with medicinal forest products? A team of USDA Forest Service botanists and economists collaborated on a study that suggests American ginseng is subject to a backward bending supply curve.

Wildfire Prevention Pays Big Dividends (2012)
SRS-2012-20 Wildfire prevention efforts on tribal lands in the United States have benefits that likely exceed costs by at least tenfold