The 2022 National Woodland Owner Survey Stakeholders and User Group Meeting 

November 22, 2022

Continuing its long-standing tradition of convening the FIA National User Group, SAF and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) recently hosted a special session on the National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS). There are an estimated 823 million acres of forestland across the United States, and more than half of that forestland is owned by private groups like corporations, families, and individuals. NWOS is a subset of the larger FIA program within the USDA Forest Service, and its task is to understand “the attitudes and behaviors of these private ownerships.” Through a series of questions that get at who owns the land, their reasons for owning it, how they manage it, and how they intend to manage it, the NWOS is a critical source of data for understanding the status and projected future trends of private forests. 

This meeting provided an opportunity for the user community—from agency leaders to academics to extension foresters—to discuss how NWOS data can best support the needs of the profession. Held October 3-7, a total of 110 attendees from across sectors attended and spoke at the virtual event, reflecting the importance of partnerships and collaboration in the field of forest data. The most recent NWOS meeting was held in 2019 and inspired a series of recommendations and related goals for the NWOS team. The 2022 meeting built on these recommendations by assessing the status of completed, ongoing, and anticipated projects. 

With the help of Rich Guldin of Guldin Forestry LLC, nine core recommendations were distilled from this meeting to reflect the needs of the FIA user community. Many other commendations and relevant comments supplement this list of recommendations and reflect the richness of the dialogue held at the event. As we do with all of our FIA meetings, SAF has published a program report  this month that can be downloaded at the link below or accessed through SAF’s Advocacy and Outreach webpage under the section titled “National User Group Meetings.” The Program Summary includes brief descriptions of oral presentations and links to videos, a synthesis of small-group dialogues with attendees elaborating on user-community needs, as well as a full list of the recommendations. 

Featured in the program report and available to watch through YouTube are exciting presentations from speakers like Brett Butler of the USDA Forest Service and Emily Huff of Michigan State. As head of the NWOS program, Butler walks us through its most recent challenges and accomplishments, and remains available through most of the recorded discussions to answer questions from the plenary. Huff of Michigan State provides very interesting insight into the opportunities and challenges facing academics who work with NWOS data, whether it’s being applied to personal research or used for lessons in the classroom. Go check out the great work showcased by these researchers and share them with your colleagues! 

We are grateful to the speakers and attendees for the important work they’re doing to shape and advance the future of NWOS. SAF and NCASI look forward to continuing their partnership in organizing and convening user group meetings focused on improving the FIA program. 

Click here to download the program summary.