Additional Participants

Graduate Student

Jon McCloskey

Jayne Lello

Project Period

June 2008- November 2008

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



One of the most important questions for resource management is, under what conditions will users conserve the resources on which their livelihood depends? This project studies the forest management strategies of different types of forest landowner groups in Maine. Some owners are doing a far better job of managing their forests sustainably than are others. The quality of management practices is a crucial issues at this time, because the rapid depletion of forests is a world-wide problem. Maine is a particularly good laboratory to study forest management issues because it is the most heavily forested state in the country, and a wide variety of management practices are being used. In Maine, the rate of cutting is not sustainable, according to a number of studies. As a result, the amount of land covered with brush and scrub trees has increased greatly, and the amount of acreage in high quality forests has declined greatly. At the same time, Maine's entire forest industry, one of the state's largest industries, is undergoing great changes. Paper mills are being closed, employment is declining sharply, and large tracts of land are changing hands.

This project involves an anthropologist and a forester studying Maine's paper companies, timber companies, forest contractors and small private forest owners. Two different, but complementary, kinds of studies will be done. First, information will be gathered on the forest management practices of a sample of landowners in each of the landowner categories, with emphasis on the paper companies and the private landowners. This information will be gathered using a number of techniques: mail surveys, qualitative in-person interviews, archival research, and direct observations. This study is designed to understand the forest management strategies of these landowners, and the social, cultural, economic and political factors motivating these decisions. Second, the actual state of the forests of these landowners will be evaluated using both field visits and the analysis of satellite images. Information from these studies will be used to test a number of hypotheses which will give us a greater understanding of the behavior of private forest-owners.

Broader implications: This study will enhance our understanding of the factors motivating people in various landowner categories to conserve or over-exploit their forests. Legislators, management agencies, and local communities would be able to act on this information to frame better resource management policies.