Q: Do you expect any changes in the overall BMP implementation score given all the changes in forestland ownership that have occurred lately; specifically industry lands being sold to TIMOs (timberland investment management organizations) and REITs (real estate investment trusts)?
A: Thank you for the very interesting question. A recent study of long term trends of BMP implementation in Texas by Hughes Simpson, BMP Coordinator, Texas Forest Service, may be able to shed a little light on the subject. Historically, BMP implementation rates have generally trended higher. From a low of 76% in 1996 overall implementation rates have steadily increased to a high of 91.7% in 2005. Something that is not as clear is whether changes in forest ownership will result in a positive or negative change to the current average.
In order to answer your question we need to look at specific ownership categories that make up the overall rate: Public ownership, Industry ownership, TIMO/REIT ownership, and Family Forest landowners. Public ownership, primarily the National Forests, has always had the highest implementation rates of all the categories with a six round average of 95.4% with little variability. Similarly, Industry has also implemented BMPs at a high rate with a six round average of 92.1%, again with little variability. Based on the three rounds of monitoring and a limited number of sites, TIMO/REIT owned lands have initially demonstrated similar implementation rates as industry (93.0%). Finally, Family Forest ownership has the lowest overall average of 77.6% but demonstrates a generally increasing trend from a low of 68.5% in 1996 to 88.6% in 2005.
So what effect do we think TIMO/REIT ownership will have on overall BMP implementation rates? Because TIMO/REIT owned lands have long-term fiber agreements with industry-owned mills, one can theorize that TIMO/REITs will continue to implement BMPs in a manner similar to the previous landowners (Industry). Therefore the net effect on BMP implementation rates should be negligible. Historically, increases in Family Forest ownership BMP implementation rates have resulted in an increase in the overall BMP implementation rate. This is due to the high scores and low variability of the other ownership categories. Therefore changes to the overall BMP implementation rate should continue to be driven by the BMP implementation rates achieved by the Family Forest ownership group.
For more information regarding BMPs and BMP implementation you can visit the new and improved BMP page on the Texas Forest website located at http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/water. Finally, if you prefer, you can contact me.
* This article was published in the June 2007 issue of the Texas Logger