A recent NPR Marketplace report said forestland sales could spike in 2016 and raised concerns about the future as aging landowners weigh their options or children uninterested in continuing a family’s timber heritage look to buyers who might not have the best interests of America’s forestland in mind.
When timberland is sold, it often is purchased by individuals or investor groups that keep the land in sustainable forestry. It’s inaccurate to suggest that these new owners clear cut the land. The reality is that they thin, harvest and replant in a sustainable manner ensuring that the U.S. has timber to meet today’s needs as well as those of future generations.
It’s true that some forestland is sold and developed for other purposes. That’s sometimes the price of progress. But most forest landowners, both family and institutional, strive to keep land in forest where it cleans the air, filters the water, and provides wildlife habitat, while also generating income.
With the stock market coming off a down year and the housing market still far from its 2007 peak in many parts of the country, some investors are turning to timberland as an attractive investment – and getaway. That’s because people increasingly look to escape from our hectic 24/7 digital culture by getting back to nature in the woods.
There’s increased interest in timberland because it’s one of the few investments that offers recreation opportunities, as well as providing income and long-term investment growth. It’s a trend that likely will continue in 2016.
America’s forest landowners will continue to promote the responsible management and utilization of timber land to ensure the sustainability of working forests and their owners. There’s a reason why we believe this is so important—while our forests are our livelihood, they are also our heritage and our legacy.