Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Grala, Robert K.

Committee Member

Grado, Stephen C.

Committee Member

Grebner, Donald L.

Committee Member

Petrolia, Daniel R.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Forestry


Bottomland hardwood forests and pine forests in the southern United States provide valuable ecosystem services such as timber, recreation, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, floodwater storage, and sediment and nutrient retention. However, these forest ecosystems are threatened because of intensive forest management, forest land conversion, and urbanization. As private landownership dominates in this region, landowner participation is crucial for success of conservation programs facilitating ecosystem services. This research focused on three different aspects of private land conservation programs. First, it estimated the impact of environmental contextual factors, private land attributes and sociodemographic characteristics on landowner concern about environmental issues. Second, it determined the influence of private land attributes, environmental concerns, frequency of contacts with federal agencies and socioeconomic characteristics on landowner satisfaction with available conservation programs. Third, it estimated the monetary compensation required by landowners to implement conservation practices focused on increasing provision of ecosystem services. Data were collected using a mail survey and from online sources. Data were analyzed using seemingly unrelated regression and logistic regression models. Results indicated that private land attributes, particularly size of agricultural land owned, and landownership goals such as providing ecosystem services and profitability, had a greater magnitude of positive association with landowner concerns about environmental issues than other factors. Similarly, size of agricultural land owned, landownership goals such as profitability and personal recreation, concerns about wildlife habitat losses and frequent contacts with federal agencies were positively related to landowner satisfaction with conservation programs. Landowner willingness to participate in a conservation program was positively related to payment amount, concerns about wildlife habitat losses, frequency of contact with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and education level. Similarly, provision of clean water as landownership objective, concerns about hurricanes and tornadoes, and landowner age were negatively associated with landowner interests to participate in conservation programs. This research also quantified landowner median willingness to accept (WTA) compensation which was $229.98 ha-1 yr-1 for participation in a conservation program related to bottomland hardwood or pine forests. The findings help identify likely participants or landowners for conservation programs facilitating ecosystem services and determine actual conservation costs at a regional level.