Manomet report studies impact of massive turnover of timberland in New England's Northern Forest

The Forest Conservation Program of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences is calling for measures to protect New England's Northern Forest in a new report that documents the impact of the dramatic turnover of timberland ownership of the Northeast's 26-million-acre forest region.

The report--Changing Forestland Ownership Patterns in the Northern Forest and Implications for Biodiversity--was initiated by Manomet scientists in the Spring of 2004 to study the impact of ownership changes on biodiversity and implications for sustainable forestry across Northern New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

According to John M. Hagan, program director of Manomet's Forest Conservation Program, there has been a major change in U.S. timberland ownership in the past decade. But nowhere has this landowner shift been as remarkable as in Northern New England where a whopping 23.8 million acres--an area equivalent to 85 percent of the Northern Forest--changed hands between1980 and 2005. Of that total acreage, 84 percent was sold in Maine alone.

"Traditionally, the forest industry and corporations that harvest and manufacture products from the forest have been the owners of timberland," Hagan explained. "But over the past decade, forest products companies have divested their timberland for the cash value by selling to new landowners who tend to be cash-rich investors, such as insurance companies and pension owners.

"Unlike the traditional forest product companies, many of these new owners are not as interested in a public discussion on the sustainability of the land they own" he noted. "But many important social questions remain, such as, 'What will these new owners do with the land? Will they be responsible stewards? Will they take care of the things people care about such as plants and animals? Will they own the land over the long term?'"

The goal of the report was to quantitatively document change in timberland ownership with

Contact: Mary Chalupsky
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences

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