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Silvicultural Practices of Large Timberland Owners and Managers

This post includes data from featured research in the Q2 2016 Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ).

In Spring 2016, Forisk conducted its third biennial survey regarding current management trends and common silviculture practices for the largest timberland owners and managers in the U.S. South. This research tracks the intensity, variance, costs, and results associated with these activities to help forest owners and managers improve forest management activities and benchmark their performance. Of the 16.8 million acres captured in the survey, 10.2 million are managed by TIMOs/Investment managers, 5.4 million acres are owned by forest industry/REITs, and 1.2 million acres are owned by independent owners (of which, 0.6 million are managed by forestry consultants that participated in the survey). By comparison in 2014, 16 firms accounting for 13.7 million acres participated.

Figure 1. Million Acres Managed by Respondent

Silv Blog Fig 1

Southwide silvicultural practices were similar for the past six years. Average trees per acre (TPA) have been consistent, and survival has been 87-90%. Chemical site prep remains the dominant site prep treatment. Harvest ages trended up, however. First thinning age increased from 13.9 in the 2012 survey to 14.9 in 2016 (arithmetic mean), and final harvest age increased from 28.6 in 2012 to 32.2 in 2016. Second thinning age remained consistent, averaging 21.2 to 21.7.

Figure 2. Average Responses from Three Biennial Silviculture Surveys

Silv Blog Fig 2

For the first time, the 2016 survey incorporated data on the costs and revenues associated with forest management. Total overhead costs in taxes, operational expenses, and other fees averaged $14.96 per acre in the South. Property management, capital expenditure, and other expenses were the largest proportion of operational costs. Recreational leases were reported on 50% of respondent acres and yielded an average revenue of $7.17 per acre. In addition, the data reveal a surprising amount of regional variation in costs and revenue for management treatments across the South.


Research on management practices supports analysis of wood markets, timberland and other forestry-related investments. To learn more about the FRQ, click here or contact Brooks Mendell at bmendell@forisk.com, 770.725.8447.

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