Making Decisions About Forestland Succession: Perspectives from Pennsylvania's Private Forest Landowners

Joshua B. Gruver, Alexander L. Metcalf, Allyson B. Muth, James C. Finley, A. E. Luloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Decision-making processes that private forest landowners (PFLs) engage when planning for their forestland’s future are not well understood. The forest ecosystem and the people who depend on its services face several critical challenges, including how to sustainably manage an increasingly parcelized forest. The Theory of Planned Behavior has been used to illuminate connections among constructs informing PFL behavior, but fails to adequately capture the complexities of forest owners’ lived experiences and how those inform behaviors. In-depth interviews provide a deeper understanding of how Pennsylvania PFLs make decisions concerning ownership succession. We approached those who recently subdivided, sold/donated conservation easements, or had not committed to any plan and asked them to tell us about their planning experiences. Relationships among family members and the quality of their communication about the land and succession emerged as important factors in the planning process. Implications for theory, forest planning, education and outreach, and further study are advanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • Estate planning
  • forest conservation
  • forest parcelization
  • phenomenology
  • qualitative research
  • succession planning


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