Journal of NACAA

Backyard Woodlot Owners: A Growing Issue and New Approach

ISSN 2158-9429

Volume 1, Issue 1 - June 2008

Editor: Linda Chalker-Scott

Downing, A. K., Virginia Cooperative Extension, North District
Finley, J. C., The Pennsylvania State University, School of Forestry
Kays, J.S., Maryland Cooperative Extension, Western Maryland Research & Education Center


As populations expand into rural areas, the Eastern United States, particularly, is experiencing forest fragmentation and parcelization. This process creates major challenges for natural resource managers, as rural forest and agriculture land convert into suburban developments. Meeting the diverse ownership objectives on these smaller forestland parcels, which do not often focus on timber production, requires innovative and sophisticated methods of communication to convey both the benefits and responsibilities associated with land stewardship. Landowners with less than 10 acres of forest own 59% of forest properties in the Eastern United States. While the overall acreage of this audience is still relatively small (8%), they represent a growing underserved audience and a significant political base that could provide support for forestry programs. Forests in this changing landscape can provide myriad environmental benefits to society as well as raw materials for forest industry. Landowners who believe non-management is the best management practice do not think about their connection to natural resources, or they have insufficient information for making informed decisions about improving the ecological function of this evolving urban landscape. As a result, landowners do not understand the intrinsic benefits gained from managing their forestland, no matter how small. A new educational tool and approach entitled, "The Woods in Your Backyard" is available to encourage small acreage landowners to understand their role in conserving forest values and to lead them to more active involvement with their natural resources.