Since the 1940s,
Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc. members have
focused on educating landowners and the public about sound
forestry practices. AHMI is one of few trade associations
with a division devoted to forestry and the advancement of
sound forestry practices.
compiled a wealth of information here that ranges from the
early years of forestry to modern practices. It is the hope
of AHMI members that this assists you in learning more about
forest management in the Appalachian Mountains and the
world's greatest natural resource. TREES!
Please follow the
links above for more information.
Below are frequently
asked questions and answers about forestry:
Q. When you listen to the evening
news, it sometimes sounds as if America's forests are about
to disappear. Is that true?
A. Not at all. About one-third of the United States -- 728
million acres -- is covered with trees. That's about 70
percent of the forest land that existed when Columbus
discovered America. And the amount is growing.
In fact, we have more trees today that we had 70 years ago.
Scientists estimate that America's forest land contain some
230 billion trees --- around 1,000 for each person. And
more trees are being planted each year. On the nation's
commercial forest land, net annual growth exceeds removals
through harvesting by an impressive 31 percent each year.
And the amount of wood in our nation's forests continues to
increase. We have added 28 million cubic feet of wood since
Q. Are we damaging the land by cutting so many
A. Roughly one-third of the nation's forests---245 million acres---is
set aside in national parks and wilderness areas, and in other
"non-commercial" areas. This third of the U.S. forests is bigger than
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium and
Israel combined. The remaining lands are classified as "commercial"
and can be used for growing and harvesting repeated crops of trees.
But even in the national forests, portions are permanently set aside
for non-commercial uses such as recreation and wildlife.
Q. Who owns commercial forests?
A. Of the nation's 483 million acres of commercial forest land, 136
million acres are owned by federal, state and local governments.
Fifty-seven percent of the remaining commercial woodlands---some 276
million acres---are held in relatively small tracts by individual
private owners. About 70 million acres---or 14 percent of the total
commercial forest land--- are owned by the forest products industry.
Q. Is there a difference between a national
forest and a national park?
A. A big difference. By law, national forests are working forests,
set up by Congress in 1897 to provide the nation with a continual
source of wood products. The national forests also provide an
important resource for wildlife habitat, for fishing, camping and
other forms of recreation.
By contrast, our many national parks, like Yellowstone, are
intentionally set aside for non-commercial uses and are not managed
for timber or other resource production. These parks are intended to
approximate natural conditions. In fact, when there's a fire on a
national park, areas where the trees were burned are not replanted.
The forest grows back naturally...no matter how long it takes. This
protection is even more extreme in the 90 million acres formally
designated by Congress as wilderness areas. There, even roads are not
allowed, so that forest land remains much like it was before Columbus
Q. Why do logging companies sometimes take all
of the trees out of an area?
A. That logging technique is called even-age management - removing
all of the trees from a stand rather than picking and choosing. Some
seedlings won't grow in the shade of mature trees, so removing all of
the trees in the stand allows the light to reach the forest floor. And
sometimes something calamitous, like a fire or windstorm, a tree
disease, or an insect epidemic, requires that the damaged trees be
removed so that new trees can get a start. In each case, the type of
harvest method (eg. selective thinning and even-age management) used
is dictated by the type of tree being harvested, the terrain, and what
conditions are needed to start the next forest there.
Q. How long does it take for a logged area to
look good again?
A. You can see new life begin to flourish almost immediately. Within
one to two years, the area will be abundantly covered with grasses,
bushes and seedlings, and there will be a noticeable increase in
wildlife. Within five years, the meadowlands will begin to fill in as
those seedlings become young trees. Depending upon the soil and
climatic conditions of the region, you will see the first signs of the
forest within 10 to 15 years. When a select harvest is completed, the
smaller trees left in the area will increase in size rapidly with the
new infusion of light and moisture.
Q. Do timber companies replant when they cut?
A. Yes. Forest products companies are in the business of growing and
harvesting trees, so reforestation is important to them. In fact,
three quarters of all the trees planted in America last year were
planted by forest products companies and private timberland owners.
And logging companies pay a special fee to fund for replanting and
reforestation when they buy the right to harvest a section of timber
on state or national forests. In the Appalachian hardwood forest,
nature replants on its own using seeds and stump sprout to grow trees
for the future. Foresters often leave areas to reforest naturally from
cones and seeds.
Q. How many trees are planted each year?
A. Last year, more than 2.3 billion seedlings were planted in the
United States by the forestry community. That's more than nine new
trees for every man, woman and child in America.
Q. Who plants those trees?
A. Of those 2.3 billion seedlings, nearly 55 percent were planted by
the forest products industry. Tree farmers and other non-industrial
private landowners planted another 28 percent of the total. The rest
were planted by federal, state and local agencies. Georgia, Florida,
Alabama, Mississippi, Oregon and Washington are the leading
tree-planting states, in that order.
Q. Is it true that we are losing all of our old
A. No. The United States has 7.5 million acres of old growth trees,
trees 200 or more years old. If you put those trees together, they
would form a band two miles wide stretching from the Pacific to the
Atlantic Ocean. And over half of that acreage, 4.2 million acres, is
protected in national parks and wilderness areas. Those trees can
never be cut. All of the really old trees, like the giant sequoias,
Even in our working forests, as much as a quarter of the remaining old
growth is located in areas where they will never be logged. Where old
growth is being harvested, it is being cut at a rate of only one
percent a year. And as those old forests are harvested, they are
replaced with new, vigorous forests that will one day be considered
old growth before it dies. Because trees live so long, it is easy to
think of them as permanent. But they are not. If natural threats
like fires, windstorms and insects don't get them, trees eventually
dies of old age --- to be replaced by young trees, which eventually
become old trees.
Q. Does logging silt streams?
A. Logging companies follow very careful regulations that prohibit
logging across streams, and use logging and road-building techniques
which further reduce erosion. Special measures are also taken to
leave a buffer of trees along stream banks to guard against erosion.
Chances are the water you drink today comes from a forest.
Communities near forest areas depend on the streams for water, and
don't have a problem with water quality. In fact, some of the purest
water in the country comes from areas which are logged on a regular
basis. Logging is a watershed practice to even out the flow of water
that would otherwise be evaporated by the trees.
Q: How can forests be good for water?
A: Forest soils act much like a blotter, by filtering microscopic
organisms from the water. In fact, the closer natural water is to a
forest, the cleaner it is --- which explains why municipal reservoirs
are located as close as possible to the forest, collecting the water
at its cleanest point. The forest also regulates the flow of water.
Forest soil 36 inches deep can absorb 18 inches of precipitation, then
gradually release it into natural channels. In this way, forests slow
the volume of rainwater discharged into streams and rivers immediately
after a rainstorm or snowfall.
Newer forests are better water cleaners than old forests. An
over-mature forest of large, old trees removes little nitrogen through
its root system, passing most of it on to the soil. Younger trees
filter out nearly all of the nitrogen and phosphorus, leaving water
virtually free of these pollutants.