Paper pub. date
August 2021
ISBN 9780870711428 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870711435 (ebook)
6 x 9, 280 pages. 1 map. 28 charts. 23 tables. Notes. Bibliography. Index.

From Backwoods to Boardrooms

The Rise of Institutional Investment in Timberland

Daowei Zhang
Foreword by Clark S. Binkley

Since the early 1900s, forestland ownership has gone through two major structural changes in the United States and other parts of the world: the accumulation of industrial timberlands between the 1900s and 1980s and, since then, the shift from industrial to institutional ownership. From Backwoods to Boardrooms explores the history and economics of these two structural changes with emphasis on the latter. These ownership transformations have impacted tens of millions of acres of private landholdings and billions of investment dollars. Industrial structure, forest management and policy, research and development, community welfare, and forest sustainability have all been directly affected.

Through a historical examination of key events and players, prevailing management philosophies, public policy, and institutional factors, Daowei Zhang searches for an economic explanation and assesses the impact of these ownership revolutions with a three-pronged approach. First, he explains why industrial firms were able to profit from owning forestlands, and how the shift to institutional ownership came about. Second, he compares private timberland investments and public equity investments with respect to risk-adjusted returns and other dimensions of interest to investors and forest managers, including alignment of interests, capacity to exploit market inefficiencies, and their forest management and conservation records. Finally, he provides thoughtful commentary on the future of institutional timberland investments and global forest sustainability.

From Backwoods to Boardrooms is essential reading for forest managers, investors, and anyone interested in understanding the workings of the modern forest sector and the future of forest sustainability.

About the author

Daowei Zhang is George Peake Professor and associate dean for research at School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University. He worked at the Ministry of Forestry and China Development Bank and served on the board of directors of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and as senior forestry officer and team leader for climate change and resilience at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He is a recipient of IUFRO’s Scientific Achievement Award and Society of American Foresters’ (SAF) Award in Forest Science. He is a SAF Fellow and has authored more than 130 refereed articles, books, and book chapters.

Read more about this author

"From Backwoods to Boardrooms: The Rise of Institutional Investment in Timberland is a thoroughly researched and detailed account of the origin of a new investment asset class, which is now common in institutional investment portfolios and which substantially altered private timberland ownership patterns in the U.S.  It is a must-read for students of forest business and finance, as well as those interested institutional timberland investments.—Founder and Former President of Forest Investment Associates, Atlanta

"Professor Zhang has written a remarkable book about the transformation of private forest ownership in the US and around the world during the past thirty-five years. The scale of the change—from lands once owned by integrated forest products companies to institutional investors—is truly revolutionary and is a story impacting tens of millions of acres of private landholdings and billions of dollars of investment. This revolution in ownership with its complex reasons and policy impacts has not been told with such reasoned and thoughtful attention before. This book is a must read for anyone who contributed to this transition, were participants in the organizations who made it happen, or beneficiaries of its impact." —Peter C. Mertz, Former President and CEO of Global Forest Partners

"Professor Daowei Zhang has written an outstanding and thorough history and analysis of the timber investment history." —Duncan Campbell, Founder of Campbell Global

"This is the first book to provide a comprehensive assessment of the restructuring of commercial timberland ownership and management in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Zhang has provided a great service to the sector by capturing not only the technical and theoretical aspects of this episode but the human side as well. Interviews with the pioneers of modern timber finance help make this book engaging as well as informative and capture details of the history that could have otherwise been lost. It will be required reading for anyone interested in understanding the workings of the modern forest sector." —David N. Wear, Resource for the Future

"In this original and comprehensive research piece, Professor Zhang presents the history of institutional timberland investments and pioneers, analytical opportunities, current events and major TIMOs and REITs firms, financial performance of TIMOs and timberland REITs, regional and international timberland investments, and future promises.  It is encyclopedic, and a must-read for anyone involved in forest investment and management in the U.S. or other countries." —F. Christian Zinkhan, Founder and Chairman of The Forestland Group

"This book is a gold mine of information on the history, economics, and investment vehicles in the forestry asset class." —David Brand, Chief Executive Officer, New Forests Asset Management Pty Limited

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