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Syntheses Highlight Perceptions and Impediments to Burning on Private Lands in the Southeast

A majority of the southern forests within the United States are owned by private companies and non-industrial private forest owners. Of these privately owned southern forests, a majority contain fire-dependent species such as longleaf and shortleaf pine. With such a large holding, land management decisions can significantly impact both the economic and environmental value of these lands.

Since many of these forests provide ecosystem services that depend on frequent fire, building a positive network for private landowners that supports prescribed burning is essential. As fire management agencies and others seek to implement and encourage more fire on private lands, an understanding of and support for prescribed fire by the landowners become increasingly important.

One issue associated with the attempt to increase prescribed burning on private lands is the negative perceptions that some landowners have about fire. This annotated bibliography compiles existing sources from within the last decade that have specifically targeted private industrial and non-industrial forest landowner perceptions surrounding the use of prescribed fire.  Suggestions for altering negative perceptions and encouraging positive perceptions of prescribed fire among landowners are also included.

In addition to negative perceptions, many other impediments also exist to increasing the amount of prescribed burning being conducted on private lands. National policies continue to emphasize more locally-based efforts to address wildland fire issues across the country, including prescribed burning. As fire management shifts toward increasing local resilience and support for prescribed burning through community-based efforts, studies have recently been conducted to gain insight into the impediments to prescribed burning on private lands (industrial or non-industrial) for the Southeast region.

This synthesis of the known surveys that have been conducted aims to build an understanding of the impediments facing prescribed fire on private lands, however, it will also help readers gain a holistic view of the challenges to prescribed fire regardless of jurisdiction. While the impediments of prescribed fire may exhibit similarities across national, regional and state levels, it is important to understand the specific impediments that exist in your area.

See a study missing from one of these papers? Please e-mail

By: Jennifer Evans, Prescribed Fire Extension Associate, NC State University