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Family Forest Research Center

Family Forest Research Center scientists talk with landowners about forest management.More than a third of the 751 million acres of rural forest land in the United States is owned by families and individuals, collectively referred to as family forest owners.  The Family Forest Research Center (FFRC), a partnership between the Northern Research Station and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Environmental Conservation, was established to conduct research on family forest owners across the country.

Specifically, the objectives of the Family Forest Research Center are to:

  • Conduct primary research on the attitudes, behaviors, needs, concerns and demographics of family forest owners.
  • Administer the National Woodland Owners Survey – the official census of family forest owners across the U.S.
  • Partner with other researchers to foster a deeper understanding of family forest owners, the forces affecting them, and their influences on forest ecosystems and society, and
  • Disseminate the results of the research and facilitate informed forest program design and policy making.


Acres of forest affected 
About 260 million acres
6 staff
Base Annual Budget:

The Family Forest Research Centere receives $125,000 per year in Forest Service Funds from the Northern Research Station and State and Private Forestry.  The FFRC also receives funding through various grants providing an additonal $125,000 per year. 


Recent studies conducted by the Family Forest Research Center have investigated:

  • Evaluation of the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Stewardship Program.
  • How personal connections shape decisions about private forest use.
  • The implications of federal and state tax policies on family forest owners.
  • Accessibility of family forest lands for public recreation use.
  • Family forest owners preferences for biomass harvesting.
  • Factors affecting forest landowners involvement with conservation programs.


By serving as a focal point for characterizing, communicating with and understanding family forest owners, the Family Forest Research Center plays a critical role in forest sustainability and health, especially in the Northeast where a large proportion of rural forest lands are family forests. 

Lessons Learned

America’s 10 million family forest owners are diverse and dynamic.  Together these family forest owners shape the future of the nation’s forests as well as the public benefits they provide.  By conducting research to understand the social and economic dimensions of family forestry we can help promote sustainable forest management that meets the current and future needs of landowners, communities and society.    

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Last Modified: January 6, 2014