Student Focus - Patrick Lyons
My work is funded through the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, (CRSF) in particular on the Family Forests Project. Family forests are defined as forested land from 10 to 1000 acres. In Maine this accounts for over 5.7 million acres of land, with approximately 120,000 owners. Unfortunately, over the past three decades numerous family forest landowners have subdivided or sold their land. From 1980 to 1995 family forest landowners increased by twenty percent, though the overall acreage remained the same. The industrial forests of Maine are also experiencing great change, witnessing rapid transfer of ownership from paper industry lands to a variety of financial and other interested groups. “Highest and best use” practices of this land has been the impetus behind rapid parcelization and amenity-based development in Maine, particularly impacting lake shore properties. Potential negative impacts of these changes in forestland ownership in Maine include: decrease in native wildlife populations, alterations to forest structure leading to decrease in biodiversity, long term-modification to and decrease in water quality, reductions in timber harvest, detriment to scenic quality and recreation opportunities, and shifts in price levels and economic benefits for forest-based products.
The end goal of my research is to build a strong understanding of the problems and needs facing the 120,000 family forest owners in Maine. Doing so is critical if we hope to find ways to provide innovative, sustainable solutions to the myriad of issues facing landowners in our state.