Parcelization, Fragmentation, and the Loss of Private Forestland in the United States

The Society of American Foresters (SAF) supports land use and land management policies that strive to minimize forest loss and recognize the ecological, economic, and social importance of privately-owned forestland. The type of forestland lost, and the drivers of change vary geographically, but generally involve urban or low-density development. This problem is exacerbated as the nation’s urban population growth outpaces the country’s overall growth rate, putting significant pressure on nearby working forestlands. SAF therefore encourages development of incentives to conserve private forestland, including the following broad categories, further described in the background section: economic incentives for ecosystem services, and for both existing and new forest products markets; changes to tax and land use policies; federal funding for land retention and management in the private sector; technical assistance to landowners; and innovative private investment vehicles. Because owning forestland is a long-term proposition, landowners need policy assurances that mitigate risk and incentivize sound forest management.