Integrating Sustainable Forestry into Whole Farm Management of Minority and Limited Resource Landowners in Two Regions of Arkansas

Final Report for LS94-061

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1994: $246,710.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $159,086.00
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Erin Hughes
Winrock International
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Project Information

Abstract:

Traditionally, forestry extension has not been as effective as agricultural extension in disseminating information to landowners. Small landowners, or farmers with small woodlands, tend to be unaware of the value and methods to sustainably manage and harvest their timber and non-timber forest products.

An innovative effort between Winrock International, The Nature Conservancy, Arkansas, Ozark Foothills Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D), and the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Council (ALFDC) has educated non-industrial forest owners of the value of their timber and to emphasize the need to seek professional advice before cutting trees. The working hypothesis for this project is if landowners realize their trees have value which increases over time, they will be less likely to clear cut their forests, will sustainably manage their forests, and will be more likely to plant trees as an investment. Through the education of landowners, this project attempts to increase landowners’ income while improving the hardwood ecosystem.

This pilot-research project initiated collaboration between government and nongovernmental agencies, private foresters, and landowners to increase awareness of the value of hardwood timberland. Two areas of Arkansas have been the focus: the Mississippi Delta Region and the Ozark Foothills. Both regions are rural and have limited economic opportunities. Poverty is prevalent and individuals have the potential to make money from the sale of their timber.

This project follows an “action research” model which monitors the process as well as the results. Since all social interventions are experiments, understanding the success or failure of approaches can be as important as understanding the impact. If a participatory approach succeeds in the Delta, then a similar project can be replicated in other areas. In addition, by constant monitoring and evaluation, the approach can be changed or adaptively managed, to achieve the desired results.

The project is testing the following two assumptions:
1. Educating landowners about management and harvesting options will increase their income and encourage sustainable management and;
2. Participatory approaches are the most effective way to educate landowners in the Delta and the Foothill ecosystems.

Winrock and its partners see the process and the results of this project as important components in understanding social, economic, and ecological changes in both regions. The objectives of this project as outlined in the original proposal are to:
• Test participatory strategies to promote sustainable farm forestry in the Delta and Ozark Foothills regions;
• Compare contexts and strategies to identify factors that influence effectiveness;
• Engage limited-resource and minority landowners, community-based organizations, technical advisors, and policy makers to determine how to promote sustainable on-farm forest management;
• Evaluate existing policies and programs; and
• Recommend improved policies and programs.

The methods used to achieve the objectives are:
• Encourage interagency cooperation by establishing a working group and facilitating interagency activities;
• Develop informational material for the landowners;
• Conduct landowner workshops to promote sustainable hardwood forest management practices;
• Demonstrate land use options;
• Establish two forest landowner associations in the Ozark Foothills region; and
• Analyze the approaches and share results through a case study/issues paper.

Impact of this project will be evaluated by measuring the following indicators:
• Number of interagency working group meetings and collaborative efforts;
• Number and/or distribution of useful extension materials; Understanding the economic impact of various land-use options on marginal land in the Delta;
• Number of workshops convened and number of participants;
• Number landowner requests for assistance in managing timber;
• Number of site assessments conducted for private landowners;
• Development of forest demonstration site(s) and number of people who have toured
the site(s); and
• Number of landowner associations, members, and types of activities.

Primary Results include:
• Three coordination meetings for representatives from collaborating agencies were held;
• Two Fact Sheets, one discussing how to receive the top dollar for your timber and the second discussion how to manage forest lands for wildlife;
• Top Dollar For Your Trees, an instructional video, was produced and will be distributed to 200 extension agents throughout the state;
• An analysis examining the economic return from growing hardwood forests on marginal lands in the Delta region was published and distributed;
• Six Top Dollar for your Timber landowner workshops were held attracting more than 435 participants;
• More than 100 requests for information on harvesting and timber management were received;
• Nine site assessments/evaluations were conducted by private consulting foresters;
• More than 200 people visited ALFDC’s demonstration forest;
• Shiitake Market Research Study conducted;
• Demonstration Forest established that will show managment systems for three different ecosystems;
• The Ozark Woodland Owners Association was formed and conducted four meetings. Two newsletters were produced as was a woodland management video; and
• Case study of the project completed and distributed.

These activities have had an impact on government and nongovernmental agencies, private foresters, landowners, and the environment. The Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Arkansas Forestry Association, and the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service have incorporated the Top Dollar for your Timber workshop in their office activities. Collectively, these agencies have received more than 100 phone calls from people who are interested in selling their timber and heard about the workshop but were not able to attend. The NRCS and Cooperative Extension are referring clients to professional foresters and/or to the Forestry Commission for information about management plans. An NRCS office outside Arkansas has requested information about the Top Dollar for your Timber workshop so it can implement the workshop in that region.

Landowners who have hired private consultants have reaped economic benefits. One consultant has worked for seven landowners who chose to get a professional appraisal based on recommendations of the workshop. These landowners have or will increase their income by an average of 25 percent over earlier timber estimates. With the exception of one landowner, all will be cutting less timber than they would have based on their initial estimate.

In sum, landowners have become more aware of the value of their timber and have demonstrated an interest in managing their woodlands for the long-term.

The contributions of this project for producers or consumers are not easy to measure. They may include increased sustainable forest management practices which will have both economic and environmental benefits. Landowners already have benefited from a greater economic return from their timber. Secondary wood processors will have access to high-quality, locally grown timber in the future. Landowners who sought professional woodland management advice have, in general, cut less timber than they would have without consultation. This results in unquantified environmental benefits to society including carbon sequestering, providing wildlife habitat, and reducing soil erosion.

Project Objectives:

This project has two distinct sets of objectives. There are objectives and methods, results and discussion which relate directly to the research component of this project. They focus on interventions that can change landowner behavior. As written in the proposal, they are:
1. Test participatory strategies to promote sustainable farm forestry in the Delta and Ozark Foothills regions;
2. Compare context and strategies to identify factors that influence effectiveness;
3. Engage limited-resource and minority landowners, community-based organizations, technical advisors, and policy makers in determining how to promote sustainable on-farm forest management;
4. Evaluate existing policies and programs; and
5. Recommend improved policies and programs.

Implicit in these, is another set of objectives which define the strategies to promote sustainable hardwood forest management in the two regions of Arkansas. They are:
1. Develop informational materials and resources for landowners on sustainable forestry management; and
2. Educate landowners about sustainable management techniques.

The report that follows focuses on the project objectives related to improving sustainable forest management. The research based objectives are discussed in the case study (see Annex).

Introduction:

1. Literature Review
Forestry and agricultural research, education, and extension activities have been carried out in different government agencies, disciplines, and colleges. This separation mirrors a division between agriculture and forestry management thought and activities on the farm. By combining the science and management of agriculture and forestry, environmental, economic, and social values are added (Garrett, 1990). There are many options to accomplish this. Farmers may add value to their farming activities through low-cost timber stand improvements (Haymond and Woodrum, 1982; White & Campbell, 1988; Berry, 1982; McClenahen & Cowen, 1984; Myers & Buchman, 1988) and development of small-scale nontimber enterprises. These income-generating activities include: producing appropriate botanicals, honey, and nursery stock; as well as granting recreation and hunting rights, applying for conservation set asides, and other environmental values (Thomas, et. al., 1992; Hill, 1991). In addition, landowners can integrate livestock-crop-tree production more directly through alley-cropping, silvopasture systems, windbreaks, buffer strips, and other practices (Henderson (ed.), 1991).

There are many barriers to integration of sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry, particularly considering limited-resource farmers with mixed species, hardwood-dominant forests. A close look at the Beltz et. al. (1992) inventory of Arkansas’ forest resources shows an increase in hardwood volume with a corresponding decline in quality. Allen (1993) describes the need to reforest hardwoods in the Lower Mississippi Valley, while Kluender et. al. (1991) describes opportunities to develop hardwood resources.

Many authors have discussed factors that influence decisions of nonindustrial, private landowners (Bliss, 1988; Clawson, 1979; Cubbage, 1983) and the track record of forestry assistance programs aimed at these people (Martin & Bliss, 1989; Marty, 1983). Arkansas studies suggest a need for technical assistance tailored to the unique social, economic, and environmental context of limited-resource farmers in different areas of the state.

An ALFDC survey (1993) of minority and limited-resource farmers in a seven-county area of the Delta showed the majority view their woodlands as “uncleared” land, and fail to value it as a productive resource. A survey of limited-resource woodland owners in the Ozarks showed farmers view their woodlands as a “savings” account more often than a productive asset (Nelson, 1990), and perceive little value in improving their management practices.

A Winrock study (Greene & Duff, 1991) concludes “fewer than 1 in 10 owners of private nonindustrial woodlands [in the Ozarks] actively manage their forests.” These woodland owners control 71 percent of the Ozark region’s 5.7 million acres of forest. In a statewide survey of woodland owners, 40 percent named grazing as a primary objective of forest ownership, 25 percent listed timber production, and 20 percent indicated wildlife and recreation (Blatner & Greene, 1988).

The ALFDC (1993) reports agriculture policies fail to acknowledge the value of woodlands in diversifying farm enterprises, serving as recreation sites, or functioning as an ecological buffer for water quality and soil erosion. Greene and Duff (1991) outline a menu of strategies to induce limited-resource farmers to improve the management of their woodlands: forming networks and associations of landowners, designing policy incentives, improving landowner knowledge of timber and nontimber land values, refocusing existing technical programs to address the unique objectives of the region, and encouraging intermediate and secondary manufacturers to become more actively involved in promoting sustainable hardwood management.

Bliss (1991) indicates one of the most critical barriers to sustainable forestry is the “forester knows best” attitude of consulting professionals. Bliss calls for a shift to the “farmer first” paradigm that has driven social forestry programs in developing countries. Broderick (1991) documents how a landowner association in the northeast became a vehicle for putting farmers first in sustainable woodland management research and education. Nelson et. al. (1989) identifies additional research needed to promote sustainable hardwood management in Arkansas.

2. Problem Statement:
Arkansas’ hardwood forests are one of the state’s most valuable resources, bringing economic benefits to people and industries. Over 536 primary and secondary wood product manufacturers in Arkansas depend on a sustainable supply of hardwoods for their livelihood. The beauty of the forests attracts vacationers. Tourism to observe the fall foliage, for example, is second only to New England and brings significant revenue to small rural communities in the Ozark Mountains. The forest ecosystem is important for a variety of nature and sport enthusiasts. In addition, hardwood forest ecosystems provide important indirect benefits and services including watersheds, carbon sequestering, and wildlife habitat for local and migratory species.

Sustainable forest management can bring increased income to landowners. Arkansas’ hardwood forests, for the most part, are privately-owned by landowners with relatively small holdings. Of the state’s private forest owners, 89 percent own 250 acres or less, and collectively represent 45 percent of privately owned hardwood forests. Eleven percent of the private hardwood land owners own 250 acres or more each, and collectively own 55 percent of the hardwood forests. This private and fairly small ownership pattern differs from many regions in the country where woodlands are found in national parks or forests, or are held in large parcels by owners who use them exclusively for timber production.

Most of these small landowners do not actively manage their forest land. As Regional Conservation District Officer, Douglas Butts, pointed out, the majority of the hardwood forests are “managed” once in a generation – when they are cut. Typically, landowners interested in cutting trees will call the local sawmill for an estimate bid. This often leads to clear-cutting practices and landowners frequently are compensated at lower-than-market prices. Alternatively, landowners who are unaware of the real value of their forested land will clear and convert it to pasture or cropland. Generally, farmers and landowners are unaware of the potential income from their woodlands. Many lack basic knowledge about forestry and are unfamiliar with management, harvesting, and post-harvest options.

Very few landowners plant hardwood trees because they don’t view it as a profitable venture.
This is especially true in the Delta region of Arkansas. While much of the bottomland forests have been cleared (from an original 21 million acres to less than 5 million, Delta wide) most of the minority-owned farms contain small woodlots located in frequently flooded low lands. Many farms contain acreage classified as farmed wetlands, which are well-suited for re-establishment of woodlands.

Many of these landowners exist at or near the poverty level. Poverty in the Delta, ranges from 27 to 47 percent. In the Ozark Foothills, many farmers are economically and/or educationally disadvantaged. Incomes are derived from multiple sources, and poverty rates range from 17 to 26 percent.

Woodlands, if managed correctly, could be an important source of income for lower income landowners and an economic and environmental asset for the public at large. Landowners need to be aware of their options and of the true value of their timber. Sustainable management over time can, in many cases, provide greater landowner income than cutting trees once every generation. This project is testing and evaluating context-specific, farm-level strategies to improve the socioeconomic/ environmental sustainability of woodland management and evaluating existing state and federal policies that affect decisions made by limited-resource farmers. Education is an important step in maximizing landowner revenue while maintaining integrity of the hardwood forest ecosystem.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Douglas Butts
  • Calvin King
  • Lance Peacock
  • Leslee Spraggins
  • Bryant Stevens

Research

Materials and methods:

Three approaches are taken in this project to achieve the ultimate goal of helping landowners manage their forest land. The first strategy was to encourage interagency cooperation through establishing a working group and facilitating interdisciplinary activities. This project planned to use a participatory approach to design activities that would be useful to the landowners. In this case, the “participants” were professionals who work with landowners and understand their needs. A working group was formed with representatives from cooperative extension and forestry agencies in the state. Professional foresters and consultants were also included. Together, this working group researched, debated, and planned the activities of the project. One intention of forming this working group was to strengthen linkages between agencies to encourage cooperation at the county level.

The second strategy was to develop informational material for the landowners. Existing documents, handouts and other forestry educational materials were evaluated to identify what information was available, and what information was lacking. Most of the pre-existing extension material were very technical and were not effective in reaching the targeted audience. From the analysis, the Working Group decided that simple Fact Sheets could benefit landowners. Two Fact Sheets and a video were produced. In addition, a study was conducted to determine the economic benefits from a growing trees as compared to growing crops, such as soybeans, on marginal land in the Delta. Changes in timber prices and agriculture policy may result in trees being more profitable than agriculture crops, yet no studies on this issue had been conducted. Finally, research was conducted to identify markets for Shiitake mushrooms to link farmers in the Delta with potential buyers.

The third strategy was to share this information with the landowners. This was done in several ways. The working group planned and conducted landowner workshops in several counties to promote sustainable hardwood forest management practices. To supplement these workshops, the working group felt it was important to show landowners the value of their timber and sustainable management techniques by demonstrating land use options. A demonstration forest was established in the Delta at ALFDC and tours are conducted during field days and public events. Professional consultants assessed forest tracts of resource-limited landowners, to demonstrate the value of their timber. ALFDC worked with landowners to demonstrate Shiitake mushroom production (a non-timber forest product) as an incoming generating activity as an alternative to selling their woodlands. In the Ozarks, a landowner association was formed. The association distributes a newsletter, conducts field days and informational meetings.

The final component of this project was to analyze the above mentioned approaches and share results through the case study. This document also serves as a kit for those who want to replicate the successful components of the project.

Research results and discussion:

The purpose of this project is to improve landowner’s income and encourage sustainable management of their hardwood forests. The results at this level, however, may not be fully apparent for several years. At this point, intermediate results can provide an indication of the long term effect of this project. These intermediate results are the outcomes of the activities or methodologies described above. These changes will in turn will lead to improved education of landowners, and ultimately, more sustainable forest management. Preliminary evaluation (as discussed in the following section E.) indicates that the activities have, on a small scale, affected landowner’s income and their forestry management practices. This section describes the activities, the outcomes and how they have or will affect landowner education.

1. Interagency Cooperation
Two activities ensured greater interagency cooperation and collaboration. One was the formation of a working group that met to discuss activities and strategies for this project. The group included members of the Arkansas Forestry Association, the Natural Resource Conservation Service the Arkansas Forestry Commission, Winrock International, The Nature Conservancy, private forestry consultants, and academics. This group met periodically and the member’s collective input helped plan and implement successful ideas for the project.

At the county level, project activities were designed to have participation of representatives from the various agencies. The Top Dollar for your Timber workshops is the best example of this and represented a truly cooperative and successful effort of government and nongovernmental organizations working together. The workshop format consisted of three speakers: a private consultant, a representative of the research and extension community, and a representative from the Arkansas Forestry Commission. A subsequent question and answer period was facilitated by a representative from the Natural Resource Conservation and/or RC&D. The Nature Conservancy and Winrock International planned and implemented the workshops.

This collaborative approach has strengthened relationships between and within organizations.
The NRCS agents involved in the workshops feel more aware of forestry services available to landowners. They now inform landowners to seek professional advice before cutting timber and refer their clients to the Forestry Commission or provide them with a list of professional consultants. Several individuals from state and federal agencies, who had no contact with The Nature Conservancy prior to this project, are now collaborating with this organization on other projects. In addition to bridging the gap between agencies, this approach strengthen relationships within agencies. One individual noted that the workshops offered an opportunity to work with the director of his division to streamline processes within their organization. As field staff, he had very little interaction with the director who was based in the capital.

These workshops facilitated relationships between individuals from different agencies and provided a forum where information on projects and resources could be shared.

2. Develop Informational Material for Landowners.
To educate landowners, the working group felt that it was important to develop extension material on forest management. This was done in several ways. Existing written material was analyzed and new material developed to fill information gaps. New information was published as Fact Sheets. A video was developed to help landowners and professionals. And, two studies were conducted to provide a greater understanding on the economic returns of timber and non-timber products. One study examined, under current policies, if it is more profitable to grow hardwood trees or agricultural crops on marginal lands in the Delta. The other study describes marketing opportunities for Delta Farmers to sell Shiitake mushrooms (see annex).

a) Fact Sheets
One project assumption centered on the lack of information readily available for landowners on managing forest land. During the first year of the project, research was conducted to collect existing information (handouts, articles, publications, announcements, etc.) on small woodland hardwood forest management and to create materials to address issues not covered in this collection. More than 58 publications were collected and a bibliography prepared. A list of topics to complement this body of information was compiled. Several members of the working group felt that this body of technical information would not be interesting to the average landowner. As a result, Fact Sheets were selected for disseminating information that was easy to read and understand and more appealing to the audience than a plethora of information. The Top Dollar for your Timber Fact Sheet was created and is used widely across the state.

A second Fact Sheet was written at the request of many practitioners to cover managing forest land for wildlife. It has been distributed to the working group and to various government and nongovernmental agencies.

b) Top Dollar Video
The success of the Top Dollar for your Timber workshops, led to production of a video by the same name produced by the University of Arkansas at Montecello, School of Forestry (see annex). This video showcases the workshop and has been distributed to all county extension agents in the state.

c) Economic Analysis Study
Through a cooperative effort with the Business Council for Sustainable Development – Gulf of Mexico (BCSD/GOM), an informal association of public and private organizations was established — the Committee for Reforestation to Achieve Sustainable Development (CRSD). The Committee provided conceptual leadership and administration for the analysis (VPI was engaged by CRSD through a competitive solicitation). Funding for the economic assessment was provided through matching grants by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ford Foundation, and Winrock International.

The team from VPI developed a complex model to compare the economic return of reforestation scenarios with soybean production on Delta lands considered economically marginal, due to frequent flooding, and more environmentally sensitive given their wetland nature. VPI applied this model to the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and documented their findings in a report entitled Reforestation of Farmland in the Mississippi River Delta: A Landowner Level Economic Analysis.

The results of the model indicate that, on a net present value basis, there is no significant economic advantage of using marginal land for agriculture over timber production, i.e., reforestation is competitive with soybean production on these marginal lands. The report noted there would be additional [undefined] value associated with reforestation through societal, environmental, and aesthetic benefits which were not considered in the study. However, under current conditions, reforestation is not competitive with soybean production on a risk-adjusted basis. CRSD and the VPI team members concluded that new government policies and incentive programs are needed to offset these risks and stimulate landowners to convert bean fields into forests (thereby achieving the broader societal benefits noted above).

3. Landowner Workshops (Top Dollar for your Timber)
Top Dollar for your Timber workshops were conducted in six locations between November 1996 and March 1998. The first was held in Forrest City on November 11, 1996. Landowners were invited from Lee and St Francis counties in the Delta. Approximately 50 landowners attended, many were minority landowners.

The result of this single workshop was tremendous. One forester from the Arkansas Forestry Commission noticed that within three weeks their office had four requests for management plans covering 288 acres. Each request was from private landowners who had never used the services of the Commission. A district conservationist based in the local NRCS office reported 15 calls from interested people within a month and a half.

Following the success of two-hour workshop in Forrest City, four other workshops were held. On January 7, 1997, a workshop was held at Fargo and primarily organized by ALFDC. Approximately 60 people attended, again mostly minority landowners. The third workshop, held in Augusta, attracted approximately 170 landowners from Jackson, White, and Woodruff counties. A few days later, the fourth workshop was held in Stuttgart for 72 residents of Arkansas, Monroe, Prairie and parts of Lonoke and Phillips counties. A workshop was held in Batesville as one of the activities of the Woodland Association of Batesville and the final workshop was held at the headquarters of ALFDC in Fargo.

Approximately 427 people attended the five Top Dollar for your Timber programs which were co-sponsored by local organizations and moderated by local representatives. Radio and newspaper advertisements, as well as direct mail pieces, announced the workshops. Scheduling was planned for minimum conflict with farming operations, and took farmers away from their work for about three hours, not all day. The organizers believe that free lunches were substantial “draw factors” for good meeting attendance as well as support by local organizations.

As already mentioned, one of the most import results of the Top Dollar series was the coordination and collaboration of the dozen or more state and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations that worked together to organize, promote, and implement the workshops. These workshops raised the level of interagency and multiorganizational teamwork in Arkansas to new heights. Participating organizations expressed appreciation and desire to continue the informal associations to address similar forestry-related issues and activities. The Top Dollar model — including the collaborative organizing approach, the local level outreach to landowners, and overall meeting format — will likely be copied for other information dissemination efforts in Arkansas and the region on topics other than forestry.

As in many first efforts, improvements were made as the series continued. At one workshop there were more industry representatives in attendance than landowners. This caused landowners to feel uncomfortable participating in discussions or asking questions. Initially, workshop attendance was low, but participation improved substantially when the Top Dollar logo was introduced on promotional materials.

4. Demonstrating Land Use Options
a) Demonstration Forests
ALFDC created a demonstration forest at Brinkley, Arkansas, and a long-term forest management plan. The demonstration site displays tree species, the DBH (diameter of the tree at breast height, a standard measurement for calculating board feet and value of a tree), and the value of a tree. Given the diverse terrain, the land has been divided into three components, and each component will be managed as per its ecosystem. One component of the forest will be managed for Loblolly pines. The second component will be managed for cypress-slough and the third component is managed for hardwoods, specifically Red Oak. ALFDC has begun implementing the operational plan (see annex) with the goals of earning income and demonstrating management styles to landowners in the Delta. Even in its current state, this forest is used during every ALFDC farmer field day and already 300 visitors have toured the site.

b) Woodland Site Assessments
Foresters were hired to assess the woodlands of nine landowners. Landowners were chosen based on their willingness to implement the management plan and allow their forest to be used as a demonstration site. From these assessments, landowners learned about harvesting options and management techniques. The success of this approach was based on the assumption that people are more likely to learn from their friends, relatives, and neighbors, than from strangers. A landowner who knows that sustainable timber management can increase earnings will likely tell others who, in turn, can hire a forester to do an analysis.

Several of foresters working with the NRCS, the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, and the Arkansas Forestry Commission felt these assessments were very useful. The assessments showed people their timber had value. The landowners became extension agents themselves, sharing information about the benefits of using a professional forester. Some foresters thought that assessments should not have been limited to minority and resource-limited landowners.

c) Non-Timber Forestry Use Options
ALFDC has explored the potential of engaging landowners in the production of Shiitake Mushrooms. These specialty mushrooms have a high market value and can be sold fresh or dried. They may provide a opportunity for small landowners to increase their income. ALDC conducted training courses during farmer field days and nearly 1000 logs have prepared and inoculated for mushroom production. They recently renovated the a gymnasium to house the logs and they have hired a manager to look after the logs. In addition, a Shiitake marketing study was conducted (see annex). The purpose of this study was to identify buyers, understand the required quality of the mushrooms for the market and necessary packaging requirements. In addition, the study provides a cost benefit analysis, which will help farmers decide if Shiitake Mushroom production will be a profitable business for them. ALFDC will use this information to train and organize farmers in the Delta who are interested in growing the Shiitake mushroom.

5. Landowner Associations
Through this project, Winrock International has helped establish several county-level forest landowner associations in the Ozark Foothills region. These associations promote exchange of information between small forest landowners and give them a collective voice. Meetings provide forums for landowners to identify problems, discuss ideas, and share solutions for forest management and harvesting problems. These associations also facilitate interaction between government agencies, nongovernmental groups, and landowners, enabling coordinated exploration and development of new markets for wood resources. They also may stimulate cooperative initiatives such as purchasing tools or managing forest landscapes.

The Ozark Woodland Owner’s Association (Independence County) is a formal organization with bylaws and approximately 60 members. Periodic meetings are held and a quarterly newsletter is sent to all members. The Woodland Association created a video, One Forest, Many Uses, to describe simple forest management techniques and to encourage the use of forestry consultants prior to harvesting.

Based on the success of the Ozark Woodland Owner’s Association, matching project funds are being used to support development of a new association in the Cleburne and Van Buren county region, a major harvest area for a new hardwood chip mill opened near Conway in 1996. Many landowners in this region have requested assistance from the Ozark Foothills RC&D and Winrock International to understand their options and to more effectively address forest management concerns in light of the new harvesting pressures associated with the chip mill. The association is expected to attract more than 100 forest landowner members.

6. Analyze Approaches, Share Results
The case study, Top Dollar for Timber: Sustaining Arkansas’ Hardwood Forests, analyzes the approaches and strategies taken to educate landowners in the Delta and Ozark Foothills. This report is divided into three parts. The first part provides a historical context of the Delta and Ozark region and the forestry industry in Arkansas. The second part describes the approaches and activities of the project and lessons learned. The lessons are easily replicable, and for those who may want to conduct landowner education workshops, a planning schedule, agenda, Fact Sheets, public relations materials and press releases are provided and can easily be adapted to other areas. The third part discusses other issues facing owners of hardwood forests in Arkansas. This final part can further stimulate discussion and subsequent activity among private, public, and nonprofit organizations working with forest resources. This report has been distributed and will be available electronically on the world wide web.

The activities and the consequent results were interrelated and enhanced the project’s success. Materials developed, for example, were instrumental in the workshops and assisted organizations in providing information to landowners. In fact, most of the activities revolved around the Top Dollar for your Timber concept. This was a simple message that attracted the attention of landowners: they should solicit professional advice before selling their timber. The following section describes these activities in detail and what was learned from the process.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:
Publications

Top Dollar for your Timber Fact Sheet (1996)
Wildlife Habitat Fact Sheet (1997)
Ozark Woodland Owners Association Newsletter (4/97)
Ozark Woodland Owners Association Newsletter (9/97)
Ozark Woodland Owners Association Brochure
One Forest, Many Uses Video (Ozark Woodlands Association)
Top Dollars for your Trees video and script (University of Arkansas)
Reforestation of Farmland in the Mississippi River Delta: A Landowner Level Economic Analysis (1997)
Top Dollar for Timber: Sustaining Arkansas’ Hardwood Forests (Case study)

Other materials included:
Management plan for ALFDC’s Demonstration Forest
Shiitake Marketing Study

Education and Outreach

The following education and outreach activities were conducted:
• The ALFDC invited several hundred guests to its annual field day;
• Five Top Dollar for your Timber Workshop with more than 427 participants;
• Three Ozark Landowner Association Meetings were conducted in the Batesville area.
• Seven landowner woodland site assessment.
• Top Dollar for your Trees video was distributed to 200 county extension agents.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

There already are two noticeable impacts of this project. Federal, state and nongovernmental agencies have incorporated sustainable forest management into their activities, and landowners have increased their earnings when they have hired a professional forestry consultant.

1. Impact on Agencies
Agency representatives involved in this project have commented on the usefulness of the Top Dollar series. The workshop provided a model which is easy to replicate and disseminate. Some have remarked that it is good to be a part of a successful initiative. Others appreciate learning about the resources of other agencies. All of the organizations have benefited from the workshops and Fact Sheets.

NRCS county agents have noticed an increase in requests for help in forest management. Some agents use the workshop material in their own presentations and refer clients to the Arkansas Forestry Commission. Moreover, other organizations in Arkansas and elsewhere continue to replicate this format for educating landowners. The Northeast Louisiana Resource Conservation and Development organization held a Top Dollar workshop, and other states have requested information.

The Arkansas Forestry Association (AFA) has adopted some of the techniques for its Landowner Clinic series which covers forest management and related issues. The AFA used the Ozark Woodland’s Landowners Association as a forum for one of their clinics.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service helped produce the video and is developing an accompanying brochure and information packet which will be distributed to all of its offices throughout the state. The Service held a program similar to the Top Dollar workshop in Logan County in Western Arkansas, and one of its foresters is producing a forest landowners handbook.

2. Impact on Landowners
The true measure of project success is how it affects landowners and the ecosystem. It is difficult to follow all landowner activities. Instead, professional consultants were contacted to monitor an increase in business resulting from the workshop. Of the three foresters who were known to work on the project, only one was available. This consultant reported that as a direct result of the Top Dollar workshops, work for seven landowners was completed. Each landowner had a previous bid and this consultant was hired for a second opinion. Six landowners cut (or will cut) less timber than they would have under the original bid. All of the landowners increased their net income between 15 and 31 percent, after the consultant’s fees were subtracted.

Though the sample is small, this demonstrates that hiring a professional consultant is advantageous for the landowner and the ecosystem.

Economic Analysis

Cooperative Efforts

As previously mentioned, this project continues to engender strong linkages between different organizations including public agencies, private organizations and individuals. In addition to the active participation of the four main partners, Winrock, The Nature Conservancy, Ozark Foothills RC&D, and ALFDC, other agencies have been involved. At the Top Dollar for your Timber meeting, The Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS), Arkansas, Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Forestry Association were involved. Similarly, in the Ozarks, NRCS, Cooperative Extension, and AFC personnel were engaged in establishing the forest land owners association and are providing technical assistance to its members. These intra-agency relationships engendered in this project are valuable for the individuals and for the agencies.

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

Bibliography

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.