Tomorrow’s Wisconsin Woodland Owners
Yesterday, Wisconsin State Forester Paul DeLong announced the results of an important study on the future of Wisconsin’s 16 million acres of woodland. As noted in DeLong’s letter, 60% of the individuals who own Wisconsin’s forests are 55 years of age or older, and 10% of Wisconsin’s private woodland is expected to change ownership in the next 5 years.
The Pinchot Institute‘s Catherine Mater led the study, which interviewed 260 children of current Wisconsin family forest owners. The findings clearly point to a need for innovation to engage and meet the needs of new woodland owners.
Here are some highlights from the study’s Key Findings page:
- Male and female offspring interact differently in the Wisconsin family structure when it comes to participation in the management of family forests.
- No matter the gender, Wisconsin offspring expect to inherit the family forestlands and they expect that they will be required to manage the lands jointly with their siblings.
- Depending on gender, income generation may or may not be important for the next generation.
- Sibling disagreement may already be more advanced than one might think. Fifty percent or more families with multiple children had siblings who disagreed in three critical areas: wanting to be involved in the management of the family forest, knowing how the family forestlands will be transferred, and identifying what conditions would force them to sell the family forest.
- Forest health and human health: no longer disconnected.
- If you want to really connect with the next generation of landowners, figure out what they tune into and what they tune out.
- Offspring look to the DNR and extension.
The study’s website includes much more detail about study background, methods, results, and how to talk to your family about the future of your land. (An additional, excellent resource on this topic is the Oregon State University Ties to the Land program.) This is required reading for not only woodland owners, but also Extension and other professionals serving them.