Study Finds that Markets are Key to Retaining Southern Forests

Monday, July 31, 2017

A groundbreaking study by Charlotte-based Forest2Market provides a review of forestland across the southern U.S. from 1953-2015. The study is called Historical Perspective on the Relationship between Demand and Forest Productivity in the US South. 

"Forest2Market’s new study proves what many of us in the forest sector have said for years––robust markets are the key to keeping forests as forests," says Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment). The Endowment joined Drax Group and the National Alliance of Forest Owners in supporting the in-depth review that should be welcome news to those who care about forests of all types.

Among the findings:

  • The amount of timberland – land in forests available for management – increased slightly over the past 60 years to almost 200 million acres, even in the face of rapid population growth that roughly doubled over the same period. 
  • Harvests to make the lumber, paper, chemical, and energy products desired by a growing population essentially doubled in 1996 to more than 10 billion cubic feet before falling back to just less than 9 billion cubic feet in 2015, while standing forest inventory – tree volume remaining in the forest – increased by more than 100%.
  • This near-magical feat – retaining forest acreage and increasing forest productivity, despite doubling forest harvest to meet product demand from a rapidly increasing population – is the result of research investments by industry and federal/state natural resources agencies and the commitment of forest owners to practice active management.

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