Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries

First Advisor

Ben D. Jackson


Based on a survey of forest products industries and logging contractors, the factors that affect harvesting costs and stumpage values on hardwood timber tracts in the South Delta Region of Louisiana were identified. Responses were evaluated with a scale value representing the relative importance of each factor. The majority of the respondents felt that physical and stand factors were the most important while contractual and legal factors were the least important. Presence and absence of roads, terrain, accessibility, product class, and timber quality were the top five factors. A second questionnaire containing weights and rankings for 32 selected factors was mailed to the respondents. They were asked for their opinions and suggestions regarding the ranking scheme, and 83 percent of them agreed with it. Proposed changes were analyzed and incorporated into the model. The tract rating system computes individual ratings for each factor and total ratings for an entire tract. Total ratings for two or more tracts of interest can then be compared and a decision can be made as to which tract to purchase. The performance of the system was tested with actual data from 14 hardwood tracts harvested recently, and the computed ratings were compared with the prices paid for stumpage on those tracts. Although the system performed well for some tracts, no correlation was found between ratings and historic stumpage prices. Reexamination of weights and rankings and verification by a larger number of respondents are recommended. The final product was a user-friendly, flexible, and universal computer spreadsheet that performs all of the necessary calculations to arrive at the tract ratings. The spreadsheet accepts any number of factors, weights, and rankings; it computers scale values, selects and sorts factors, calculates individual and total ratings, and summarizes results for statistical manipulation. The Tract Rating System can predict whether harvesting a particular tract is feasible and affordable, given the pertinent constraints. Once ratings are obtained for several target tracts, the appropriate harvesting system(s) can be assigned to those tracts where they would perform best.