Private Land Management and Voluntary Incentive Programs

This National Science Foundation funded project investigates the role social influence plays in the land management decision-making of private forest owners in the Western Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. Our research goal is to better understand how uncoordinated land management decisions of thousands of non-industrial private forest owners impact the landscape of the Western UP. We are also exploring the potential to coordinate these land management decisions to achieve broad sustainability goals using voluntary incentive programs (VIPs). Through the course of our research, we gathered data using stakeholder interviews with non-industrial private forest owners and leaders of local land management associations. We also collected and analyzed GIS and remote sensing data to assess the landscape impacts of common land management activities. Finally, we plan to use the data collected in this study to develop an agent-based model ("ForestSim") as a way to "forecast" the impacts of alternative land management policies. We have already integrated data from our interviews, large-scale efforts such as the National Woodland Owner Survey, and the US Census Bureau to populate a pilot model with "realistic" landowner agents who make land management decisions, such as timber harvesting. We have also used remote sensing analysis to measure prior land-use changes and compared these patterns with our simulation forecasts as a way to verify that our results are reasonable given historic land-use changes. Our ultimate goal is to provide the community of forest managers with a land-use planning tool to help construct voluntary incentive programs that ensure our natural resources support our communities and economies in a sustainable manner.

Simulation screenshot.                         Interface screenshot.

Figure 1. A screenshot of ForestSim showing simulated land-management activity in Houghton County and the Graphical User Interface used to control the model simulation run.

Publications and Presentations:

Lind-Riehl, Jennifer, Shelley Jeltema, Margaret Morrison, Gabriela Shirkey, Audrey L. Mayer, Mark Rouleau, and Richelle Winkler. 2015. "Family legacies and community networks shape private forest management in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan (USA)," Land Use Policy, Vol. 45, May 2015, pp. 95-102.

Lind-Riehl J, Jeltema S, Morrison M, Shirkey G, Mayer A, Rouleau M, Winkler R. 2015. Western Social Sciences Association 57th Annual Meeting, Portland OR. “Social influence as a factor in NIPF land management decision making.”

Mayer AL and MD Rouleau. 2013. ForestSim model of impacts of smallholder dynamics: forested landscapes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. International Journal of Forestry Research.

Schubert JR* and AL Mayer. 2012. Peer influence of nonindustrial private forest owners in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Open Journal of Forestry 2(3):147-155.

Tortini R and AL Mayer. 2013. International Association for Landscape Ecology – US Region, Austin TX. “Remote detection of harvesting of nonindustrial private forests in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan (USA) using Landsat annual series.”

Mayer AL, MD Rouleau, M Roeser, and J Schubert. 2011. International Association for Landscape Ecology – US Region, Portland OR. “Modeling the impacts of communication among nonindustrial private forest owners on forested landscapes.”

This work is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (Award #1251932, PI: Mark Rouleau) and the USDA McIntyre-Stennis program (Awards #1010025, 1110036, 1210038, PI: Audrey Mayer).

USDA logo.