Demand the Appalachian Standard

The World's Finest Hardwood Lumber


In the early 1600s, forests covered about one-half of the area of what is now the continental United States.  More than a billion acres of  land was forested when the pilgrims arrived.  Today, even with all the clearing for development, with all the trees harvesting, with all the wood products we have consumed in 350 years, we still have more than 753 million acres in forests, nearly three-quarters as much as when the first settlers arrived.

One third of the United States is forested.  This means that our nation's 2.3 billion acres of land, 753.5 million acres are forest lands.  These forest lands are classified as either commercial or noncommercial.  Commercial forest lands are "capable" and "available" for growing trees for harvest.  In addition to providing fiber for wood and paper, they provide recreation, wildlife habitat, and watershed protection.

Commercial forest lands make up 66 percent, or 499.7 million acres, of the 253.9 million acre total.  The other third, 253.9 million acres, is classed "incapable" or "unavailable" for growing trees for harvest.  Of this total, 233.9 million acres are considered unproductive or presently incapable of growing sufficient wood fiber per acre to make them profitable to harvest.  (A large percentage of these lands, 113 million acres, is in Alaska.)

The other 19.9 million acres are classed as either productive-reserved or deferred---"capable" of growing trees for harvest but "not available."  These include National parks, Wilderness areas, and other single-use restrictions.

Nearly three-fourths of the commercial forest lands are located in the eastern half of the United States, about equally divided between the North and South.  Eighty percent of New England, more than half of the land along the Atlantic Coast, and 15 percent of the Central Region are covered with commercial forests.

Government, with 136.1 million acres, is the largest single owner of commercial forest land.  National Forests make up 91.9 million acres of 18 percent of all commercial forest land.  Other federal lands, including lands managed by the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs, make up another three percent or 15.2 million acres.  And six percent (29 million acres) is in state and local ownership.

The largest portion of commercial forest land is owned by individuals 296.2 million acres or 59 percent.  Nearly half of these lands are in the South and North.

The forest products industry, with 67.3 million acres, owns only 13 percent of the commercial forest land.  About 52 percent of these industrial lands are in the South and 26 percent are in the North, with most of the remaining lands on the Pacific Coast.

For several decades up to 1960, America's commercial forest lands expanded, as farmlands were returned to forest status.  This was particularly true in the Eastern states.

However, in the period between 1962 and 1970, the trend reversed.  A decline of 8.4 million acres in the commercial forest base over this period was mostly in the South.  Reasons included:  shifts of public land use to reserved or deferred status, increased use of forest lands for roads and power lines rights of way, lands cleared for crop production, pasture lands and for recreation projects.

Within the 12 states that are included, in whole or in part, in the Appalachian area, more than 8.1 million acres of commercial forest land is owned by the federal government.  Most of that (6.2 million acres) is in National Forest land and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

State, county and other governmental bodies own another 4.78 million acres, while the forest industries own 13.8 million acres.  As reflected in national figures, the largest owner by classification is the private landowner.  Private commercial woodlands in the Appalachian area equal 110.2 million acres or 80 percent of the total land area.

Industry does the best job of timber production on its land.  The average annual per-acre growth is 70 cubic feet.  The average on private land is 30 and on federal timberlands 35 cubic feet per acre per year.  Clearly, the demand for consumer products from the forest will demand that better management of our forest resources be a national policy.  With the potential for doubling the output from federal and privately-held lands available to us, we have no alternatives...we must call on the professional foresters and land managers to make these lands as productive as possible.

The timber productivity of these lands, of course, must be balanced with all the benefits available.  The management decision that provides the most benefit for the most people will prevail.


U.S. Forests Appalachian Forest Tree Growth Forest Quantity U.S. Forestry Begin Forest Practices The Future

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  Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc., P.O. Box 427, High Point, NC 27272 | Tel. (336) 885-8315