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Who Owns the Forest in the US South

Who Owns the Forest in the US South | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

In the US South, the distribution of forest ownership can be broken down into two categories, public and private. Public lands in the South are owned by federal, state and local governments; they make up 12 percent of the timberland—just over 29 million acres. Private lands are owned by corporations, financial institutions and private individuals with small tracts; they own 88 percent of timberland in the South—nearly 222 million.

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U.S. Timberlands: Who Owns Them And Where Are They?

U.S. Timberlands: Who Owns Them And Where Are They? | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The four Timber REITs own about 17 million acres of land in the U.S. These acres are at the core of the Timber REIT business. This sounds like a pretty big number. I thought it might be interesting to look at all of the timberlands in the U.S., see who owns them, and see where they are located.

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So, to summarize:

  1. 23% of the total acres in the U.S. are commercial timberland.
  2. Between 1% and 2% are owned by timber REITs or other publicly traded companies.
  3. The vast majority of private timberlands are owned by small landowners.
  4. The South and the Pacific Northwest account for about 57% of private timberland acres and 75% of harvest volume.
  5. Public ownership accounts for about 12% of timberland acres
  6. Public timberlands are, for all practical purposes, manages as parks rather than for timber production.
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Foreign investment in U.S. land on the rise

Foreign investment in U.S. land on the rise | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Foreign holdings in U.S. forests and farmland rose by 6.7% in the last 10 months of 2010, encompassing an area roughly the size of Indiana, according to a new report by the Department of Agriculture.


The report, containing the most recent data available, shows that investors from Canada and the Netherlands have almost half of all foreign forest and farmland holdings in the USA. The Canadian holdings reflect heavy investment by timber companies, while the Dutch holdings reflect pension fund investments and long-term agricultural connections in the USA.

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More than half of foreign land holdings are in timber, much of it concentrated in Maine, where roughly 16% of privately owned land has foreign owners or leasers, almost twice that of any other state, the USDA said.

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Nationally, about 24.2 million acres of privately held farm and forest land were owned or leased by companies with foreign investors, up more than 1.5 million acres in the last 10 months of 2010, the report says. The total is up more than 65% since 2004. The growth in 2010 came after a relatively flat period during a global economic slowdown in 2008 and 2009.

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Ten states, mostly farm states in the Midwest, restrict foreign land ownership, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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2013 US Timberland Ownership: Descriptive Statistics

2013 US Timberland Ownership: Descriptive Statistics | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

According to Forisk tracking of timberland ownership in the United States, 117 firms currently own or manage in excess of 100,000 acres of timberland. These firms feature the following descriptive statistics:

  • As a group, they own/manage 86.2 million acres of timberland.
  • On average, they own/manage 736,589 acres of timberland.
  • The median ownership is 312,000 acres.

Assuming an average per acre value of $1,500, each firm owns or manages on average $1.1 billion in timberland assets.

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Jeffrey Wikle's comment, April 4, 2013 9:20 AM
I think there is some overlap for AFM, which manages a lot of FIA timberland. AFM is a forestry consultant. All the rest on the list, perhaps with the exception of Wagner, are purely TIMOs or REITs.
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Georgia forests, 2011: Forest area remains the same, while ownership changes

Georgia forests, 2011: Forest area remains the same, while ownership changes | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Georgia contains the largest area of forest cover of any state in the South, with forests making up 67 percent of land cover or 24.8 million acres, according to a Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) Factsheet just released by the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS). While this land area remains stable, timber inventory has increased.


"Forest area in Georgia remained relatively stable over the last 50 years," says Richard Harper, SRS forester and author of the analysis. "While forest area stayed about the same, timber inventory more than doubled over the same period—suggesting that Georgia's forest landowners are engaged in long-term strategies to improve sustainability of their forests."

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