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Pinchot focus areas:

Climate & Energy
Water
Forests
Communities
Policy

Understanding the Needs of the Next Generation

45% of America's family forests are owned by individuals over 65 years of age. During the next two decades, the U.S. will witness the largest intergenerational transfer of private forest lands in its history. What will this mean for forest conservation? Given the economic pressures for development and land conversion, what policy changes are needed to help landowners keep forest as forest?

The first of its kind statewide offspring study conducted by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation found that the majority of offspring of Wisconsin family forestland owners are not connected to the land; have not been involved in the management of the land (female offspring far less than male offspring); but still expect to inherit the land from their parents. They believe their parents will require them to jointly manage the family forests with their brothers and sisters – potentially posing real challenges as these siblings already demonstrate some high levels of internal disagreement on important aspects of managing the family forests (i.e. generating income from the land; determining what conditions might force them to have to sell some or all of the family forests).

In fact this is of such importance that Wisconsin offspring place sibling agreement on the top of their list as the key condition to maintaining forestlands in family hands. And new to the discussion of keeping forests as forests, both male and female offspring in Wisconsin fear that lack of access to funds to pay for major medical expenses (not taxes) would more likely force them to have to sell the family forests. Further, this next generation of Wisconsin forestland owner tunes-out to stewardship discussions, but tunes in to payment for ecosystem services (getting paid to keep the trees on their land growing as carbon banks).  So tapping into their information pipeline will simply require different thinking and different messaging.  

All-in-all, it’s a new ball game with new rules for parents, government agencies, and universities in Wisconsin all tasked with plugging into their next generation of family forestland owners.  But it’s also a ball game that may provide unique platform for new players – like forward-thinking health insurance providers – to create new programs to help address human health and forest health in ways never done before.

Project Leader: Catherine Mater, Senior Fellow

For more information:

Wisconsin Data Analysis:

Demographics

Affiliations

Perceptions

Forest Management

Decision-Making

Pennsylvania Data Analysis:

Demographics

Affiliations

Perceptions

Forest Management

Decision-Making

 
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