Social Sciences

Private Land Management and Voluntary Incentive Programs | Social Sciences

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

This National Science Foundation funded project investigates the role social influence
plays in the land management decision-making of private forest owners in the Western
Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. Our research goal is to better understand how uncoordinated
land management decisions of thousands of non-industrial private forest owners impact
the landscape of the Western UP. We are also exploring the potential to coordinate
these land management decisions to achieve broad sustainability goals using voluntary
incentive programs (VIPs). Through the course of our research, we gathered data using
stakeholder interviews with non-industrial private forest owners and leaders of local
land management associations. We also collected and analyzed GIS and remote sensing
data to assess the landscape impacts of common land management activities. Finally,
we plan to use the data collected in this study to develop an agent-based model (“ForestSim”)
as a way to “forecast” the impacts of alternative land management policies. We have
already integrated data from our interviews, large-scale efforts such as the National Woodland Owner Survey, and the US Census Bureau to populate a pilot model with “realistic” landowner agents who make land management
decisions, such as timber harvesting. We have also used remote sensing analysis to
measure prior land-use changes and compared these patterns with our simulation forecasts
as a way to verify that our results are reasonable given historic land-use changes.
Our ultimate goal is to provide the community of forest managers with a land-use planning
tool to help construct voluntary incentive programs that ensure our natural resources
support our communities and economies in a sustainable manner.

Simulation screenshot.                         Interface screenshot.

Figure 1. A screenshot of ForestSim showing simulated land-management activity in
Houghton County and the Graphical User Interface used to control the model simulation

Publications and Presentations:

Lind-Riehl, Jennifer, Shelley Jeltema, Margaret Morrison, Gabriela Shirkey, Audrey
L. Mayer, Mark Rouleau, and Richelle Winkler. 2015. “Family legacies and community
networks shape private forest management in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan
(USA),” Land Use Policy, Vol. 45, May 2015, pp. 95-102.

Lind-Riehl J, Jeltema S, Morrison M, Shirkey G, Mayer A, Rouleau M, Winkler R. 2015. Western Social Sciences Association 57th Annual Meeting, Portland OR. “Social influence as a factor in NIPF land management decision making.”

Mayer AL and MD Rouleau. 2013. ForestSim model of impacts of smallholder dynamics:
forested landscapes of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
International Journal of Forestry Research.

Schubert JR* and AL Mayer. 2012. Peer influence of nonindustrial private forest owners in the Western Upper Peninsula
of Michigan. Open Journal of Forestry 2(3):147-155.

Tortini R and AL Mayer. 2013. International Association for Landscape Ecology – US
Region, Austin TX. “Remote detection of harvesting of nonindustrial private forests
in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan (USA) using Landsat annual series.”

Mayer AL, MD Rouleau, M Roeser, and J Schubert. 2011. International Association for
Landscape Ecology – US Region, Portland OR. “Modeling the impacts of communication
among nonindustrial private forest owners on forested landscapes.”

This work is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (Award #1251932, PI:
Mark Rouleau) and the USDA McIntyre-Stennis program (Awards #1010025, 1110036, 1210038,
PI: Audrey Mayer).

National Science Foundation logo USDA logo.

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt