As part of our research into forest supplies and investments, we track trends and silviculture changes associated with the ownership and management of private timberlands throughout North America. Over the past twelve months, our team made 159 updates to Forisk’s North American Timberland Ownership List, including 112 updates associated with acres owned and managed. In the United States, “industrial” timberlands, or privately owned acres managed to maximize wood volume and cash flows, comprise 9% to 14% of all U.S. forests. In Canada, only 7% of all forest area is privately owned, and a fraction of this would qualify as investable timberlands for institutional and timber REIT investors.
Currently, the Forisk database includes over 300 private organizations in the United States and Canada that each own or manage 10,000 timberland acres or more. These include private individuals, corporations, and institutions that own or manage over 100 million acres of private timberlands. Of the 103.3 million timberland acres captured here, 96.5 million (93%) acres are with 120 organizations that own or manage 100,000 acres or more each. This article summarizes key changes in private timberland ownership over the past two years.
Top Ten Private Timberland Owners
The table below lists the 2015 top 10 U.S. timberland owners by acres, and compares this to their 2014 rankings. Overall, the organizations listed remain unchanged from 2014, though their acreages did, and the top two firms on the list switched places. These 10 firms own 23.8 million acres; timber REITs account for 72% of this total. This does not include the approximately 2.9 million acres directly and indirectly controlled by the two largest non-profit conservation owners. Including Canadian ownerships would have added TimberWest and Domtar to the Top 10. Including J.D. Irving’s acres in Canada would have moved them up to number 3 on the list.
Top Ten Private Timberland Managers
When looking separately at timberland managers, institutional asset managers account for 81% of the 25.1 million timberland acres managed by the top 10 managers. Timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs), who manage timber assets on behalf of institutional investors and large private investors, hold nine of the top 10 slots. One traditional forestry consulting and management firm, which is also the largest organization on the list (American Forest Management), accounts for the balance.
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