Social Valuation of Forest-based Ecosystem Services of Female Forest Landowners in Georgia, United States

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,081.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Georgia
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Puneet Dwivedi
University of Georgia


  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Crop Production: forestry, forest/woodlot management
  • Farm Business Management: land access, land management
  • Sustainable Communities: public policy, quality of life, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    In the United States, about 24% of forest landowners who own 10+ acres are female, collectively owning 52 million acres. This percentage is even higher in the Southern United States (Southern US), as about 27% of forest landowners are females owning 30 million acres in total. While trends show that female forest landowners (FFLs) are on the rise, FFLs are less actively involved in forest management, compromising the sustainability of these forestlands and the flow of ecosystem services (ESS). No substantial research efforts have been made to understand the perceptions of ESS and the underlying value orientations of FFLs. This lack of knowledge about FFLs has resulted in a situation where extension efforts to positively engage FFLs were either not launched or failed due to a mismatch between information provided and information needed resulting in lower recruitment and funding support. In this context, the project proposes to capture the preferences, synergies, and trade-offs of FFLs for sustainable management of forests in the Southern US in general and Georgia in particular. A value-based approach to decision-making will help us understand the factors influencing forest management decisions. We will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches to construct a mental model and understand social valuation of ESS of FFLs. Our results will inform decision-making of forestry management activities. This will in turn cater to the needs of FFLs, which will bring a sense of community to FFLs, ensure the sustainability of forestlands and the flow of ESS in the Southern US.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The social valuation of ESS will provide knowledge on the perceived benefits of FFLs and their underlying motivations for managing forest lands. The social valuation of ESS can be understood through preferences, synergies and trade-offs of ESS. ESS that are preferred together would appear in bundles, revealing the synergies between ESS. Those ESS that compete with other preferred ESS would emerge as trade-offs.

    Value dimensions will help us understand the motivations and how synergies and trade-offs emerge based on the perceived benefits 13. The underlying values of FFLs will reveal the driving factors that motivate the preferences for ESS. Further, diverging values and varying stakeholder preferences of ESS will reveal the FFL perceptions of ESS trade-offs. Considering a value-based approach will help us examine the trade-offs of ESS as well as the motivations for ESS preferences of FFLs.

    Social preferences of ESS, and the resulting ESS bundles (synergies) and trade-offs will enhance our understanding of FFL decision-making for forestland management in order to develop targeted outreach and policy interventions. Further, motivations for ESS will help evaluate the trade-offs, reveal land management intentions, and develop land-management options 14.

    Goal: The goal of the study is to assess the social valuation and perceptions of ESS benefits based on socio-cultural knowledge that influence forest management decisions of FFLs in order to safeguard the sustainability of forests, sustain the flow of ESS and empower FFLs in Georgia.


    1. Assess the values, and preferences for ESS and the underlying motivational factors contributing to the preferences of ESS based on socio-cultural knowledge of FFLs.
    2. Evaluate the ESS trade-offs and bundles based on the perception of FFLs.
    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.