Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Virginia forests are facing new threats

Dr. Chris Asaro, the Department of Forestry's Forest Health Specialist, was recently featured on a radio news report on WVTF. Reporter Sandy Hausman interviewed Chris on the new health threats facing our forests from invasive plants and pests.

Click here to listen to the report.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Foreign Ownership of Forestland on the Increase, But Not in Virginia

Thanks to Brian Fiacco and his post on the Timberland Blog for informing me of this data source on foreign land ownership in the United States. The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 requires all foreign owners to report any transactions of agricultural and forest lands within the United States. A recent report by the Farm Service Agency shows an increase of foreign forestland ownership from just over 7 million acres in 1997 to approximately 13.5 million acres in 2007. (See Figure 3 from the report.)

Much of the increase can be attributed to land sales by forest product companies to a handful of buyers from Canada (2.8 million acres in Maine) and the Netherlands (3.3 million acres in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas).

Virginia has not participated in this trend of increasing foreign forest ownership. Reported foreign ownership in Virginia declined slightly from 139,000 acres in 1997 to 116,000 acres in 2007. In 2007, 60,230 of the 116,000 acres were reported as forest land. Only 5 counties (Albemarle, Botetourt, Loudoun, Patrick and Tazewell) had more than 2,000 acres of foreign forest ownership reported.

A map from the report (Figure 2) shows the distribution of all foreign-owned agricultural and forest land by state.