Scientists & Staff

B Butler

Brett Butler

Research Forester
160 Holdsworth Way
Amherst, MA, 01003
Phone: 413-545-1387

Contact Brett Butler

Resume (147 KB PDF)

Current Research

My current research focuses on survey methods for collecting information from private forestland owners, analyzing trends in private forest-land owners and the land that they own, and studying the factors that influence decisions made by private landowners. To this end, I am in charge of the National Woodland Owner Survey and co-director of the Family Forest Research Center.

Research Interests

I will continue to conduct the National Woodland Owner Survey and related research that helps provide the information needed to maintain and increase our understanding of private forest owners. Future projects will likely focus on family forest owner dynamics, assessing the efficacy of programs and policies aimed at family forest owners (including carbon sequestration programs), combining forest inventory and landowner survey data to examine ecosystem services, and modeling transitions among different ownership groups.

Why This Research is Important

There are an estiamted 9.6 million families, individuals, trusts, and estates, collectively referred to as family forest owners, who own an estimated 272 million acres of forest land in the United States; this represents 39% of the forest land in the country, excluding interior Alaska, which more than any other ownership group. The fate of much of the nation's forests lies in the hands of this diverse and dynamic group of people.


  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, Ph.D. Forest Science, 2005
  • University of Connecticut,Storrs,Connecticut, B.S. Natural Resource Management and Engineering, 1995

Professional Experience

  • Editor in Chief, Small-scale Forestry Journal

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)
  • Society and Natural Resources
  • IUFRO Small-Scale Forestry Working Group

Awards & Recognition

  • US Forest Service Chief's Award for Generating Global Knowledge, 2019
  • National Woodland Owners Association/National Association of University Forest Resource Program, 2015
  • IUFRO 3.08 Small-scale Forestry Brandl Award, 2014

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Datasets

  • Hewes, Jaketon H.; Butler, Brett J.; Liknes, Greg C. 2017. Forest ownership in the conterminous United States circa 2014: distribution of seven ownership types - geospatial dataset. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

National Research Highlights

Forest Ownership map. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Understanding the National Woodland Owners Survey

Year: 2016

An estimated 11 million family forest ownerships control 36 percent of the forestland across the United States, more land than any other ownership group. The Forestry Inventory and Analysis program conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey to understand: who these owners are; why they own their land; what they have done with it in the past; and what they intend to do with it in the future.

Family forestland owners.

Family Forest Owners See the Trees, Not the Forest

Year: 2015

Family forest owners, people who own more forest land in the U.S. than any other group, do not perceive themselves as owning “forests.” Working with the Sustaining Family Forest Initiative and other partners, Forest Service scientists with the Family Forest Research Center have found that family forest owners’ perceptions focus on the trees, not the forest.

U.S. forest ownership map. Jake Hewes, USDA Forest Service

Forest Ownership Map of the Conterminous United States

Year: 2014

Nearly two-thirds of the forests of the conterminous U.S. are privately owned, not publicly owned, as many assume. To help clear up this understanding, Forest Service scientists have created a map and a spatial data product to help illustrate the distribution of forest ownership across the nation.

Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2022