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Author Topic: US Forest Facts and Trends  (Read 5226 times)

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Offline swampwhiteoak

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US Forest Facts and Trends
« on: June 15, 2001, 05:42:45 PM »
The Forest Service just issued a report on trends in the US forest land.  I highly recommend reading it for anyone who's interested in the past and future of our forests.

http://fia.fs.fed.us/library/ForestFacts.pdf

Some highlights:

The US has 5% of the world's population, 10% of the world's forest land, 7% of the world's timber inventory, and produce 25% of the world's timber production for forest products.

Only 5% of private forest landowners have a written mgmt. plan although plans are written on 40% of private lands (Large landowners are more likely to use a forester).

Timber volume and growth have increased significantly since 1953 although actual land in forest has been more or less static (gains in the north, losses in the west and south).

Lots of other stuff that would take me too long to write, check it out.

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2001, 08:49:57 PM »
10% of the world's forest land, but only 7% of the world's forest inventory seems that we have a lot of understocked land.

25% of the world's industrial production, but how much of the world's wood consumption?  Must be pretty high since we are importing large quantities of lumber from Canada, and pulp from South America.

Much of the rise in volume comes from pulpwood crossing over into sawtimber classes.  This was especially previlent from the 50s to the 70s as ag lands reverted back to forests.

It would be interesting to see how the growth and removal stats would be just for private landowners.  We do have areas in PA where the amount of sawtimber stands have declined while poletimber has risen.

Our biggest gainer has been hemlock and red maple.  In many areas of the state, they are low grade.  Our biggest losers are the oaks, thanks in part to the gypsy moth and good oak markets.

All in all, the report is good PR, but a little lax in explanation for my taste.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2001, 07:53:01 AM »
Well, are wood consumption is greater than our production, that's for sure.

I would say that I generally see quality of the resource heading downhill (in KY and OH) even though quantity may be on the rise.

I'd like a more detailed report myself, with info on species composition changes as well as grade differences.  That would be more interesting.  Foresters have been able to talk about growth exceeding harvest for a long time.  I think that may change in the next 10-20 years.

Has the FS started there continuous inventory in Pennsylvania yet?  They're starting here soon, I think after 5 years or so that'll be a source of quality, current info.  I heard a FS guy say it took them all day to do 2 plots.  

There are three kinds of lies: Lies,
    *DanG Lies, and Statistics. " --Benjamin Disraeli.  

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2001, 07:01:57 AM »
I think I read somewhere that they have started their survey.  Our last survey was 1989, so we're well past due for one.

One veneer buyer told me he was at a seminar one time where a state DCNR rep was talking about timber supply.  Their hedging at a 20 year supply at current rates.  That's to consider at the last report, we were growing at twice the cut.  And most of the growth was in red maple.

Over the past 10 years, I've seen a marked difference in the logs that make it to the mill and veneer pile.  They are much smaller.  Trees that used to be left to grow are now being cut.  One mill cuts all red oak 14" and up and calls it sustainable forestry.

That's why I liked to see detailed statistics.  On the surface, things look great, but when you dig deeper, you find things have room for improvement.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2001, 09:43:31 AM »
Quote
One mill cuts all red oak 14" and up and calls it sustainable forestry.


Sadly, I've seen some "foresters" with the same attitude.  Until "oak regeneration" gets figured out I think we'll continue to see red maple outpace other species (especially if oaks are being cut before they reach their prime mast years).  Seems inevitable.


Offline Gordon

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2001, 05:36:47 PM »
Ok I'm reading some of the older posts and it seems the more that I read the more questions I have.

What are some of the finer points of oak regeneration on the east coast? What can be done to help the oak over the quicker start up of the maple?

just a question
Gordon

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2001, 05:56:25 PM »
   Ok, so call me naive (or worse than that..)- but here you are saying that we import more than we cut- but those of you that cut and mill have been saying for 6 months or more that you are suffering for a lack of buyers, inventory is sitting there, etc.. (and I believe you)  **how do these two facts fit together?!?!**

 Can you somehow tap into that demand for wood that results in imports, and cover it to your advantage?? Or are you looking at a local lack of demand but a national emand that outstrips national supply, retrospectively viewed?

 Just asking ::)    lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2001, 05:58:56 PM »
  (btw, that snoring smiley slipped in by mistake. I  don't know what I typed that made him sneak in. I was not snoring..sipping wine, yes, but none of the smileys are actually tippling. Maybe he was predicting that i'd be sleeping soon..)     lw
L. Wakefield, owner and operator of the beastly truck Heretik, that refuses to stay between the lines when parking

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2001, 07:53:05 AM »
Gordon,

You can get a room of foresters arguing loudly about oak regeneration.  I give you some general info, maybe someone else will want to contribute also.  The FS is doing a ton of research on this, and to say it's all figured out would be wrong.

-Oaks are shade intolerant but not as shade intolerant as yellow-poplar, black cherry, or walnut.  They are less tolerant of shade than maples, beech, or basswood.
-Oaks will stump sprout vigorously, but not after a certain age or size
-Oak seed sprouts best on bare mineral soil

Assuming you had an oak forest that you wanted to cut:
-Clearcutting will result in coppice regeneration (stump sprouting).  The catch is if your oak is too old or large, they won't sprout.  Oak seedlings will never catch up to more shade intolerant species.  So, the forest shifts to tuliptree and cherry (simplification but it gets the point across)
-Partial cutting (say 30% or less) won't open up the canopy enough for oaks to regenerate.  Continuing this practice will favor more shade tolerants, like maple and beech.
-Shelterwood cutting is often promoted as the way to regenerate oak.  Theory is that you cut about 50-70% of the overstory and leave some oaks behind.  This lets in enough light, in theory, to promote oaks without favoring other species.  The problem is choosing which oaks to leave behind.  In an even-aged forest, the small trees aren't necessarily the young ones, they're the runts.  Leaving behind the runts means you aren't getting a good mast crop, which is the whole purpose.  Leave behind your biggest and best and you risk losing them to windthrow or grade defects because oaks also epicormic branch pretty bad when opened up to light.
-Oak seeds have a lot more success on bare soils.  The root shooting out of the acorn has some trouble going through thick leaf litter.

So how in the world did we get so much oak in the first place?  The forests of pre-european settlement were heavily influenced by human activity (contrary to what the tree-huggers want you to think).  Indians would perform burns in the early spring.  These were cool, ground fires, not hot canopy fires.  The forests probably had half the number of trees as we normally do now.  They did this to promote shrubs and trees that would attract game.  So, there was more light penetration, bare soils, and to top it off, all the other trees I've mentioned are intolerant of fire and die.  Oak seedlings would just resprout and try again.  Basically, this management favored oak over other species in the central and eastern US.  

Well, I see I rambled on enough, if you want me to elaborate on anything go ahead and ask.  

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2001, 07:59:53 AM »
LW,

I'm sure Ron. W. has a better answer for this than I do.  Realize that the lumber market is an international one.  Lately the value of the US dollar is very high.  That makes it tough on exports which is a big market for grade hardwoods.  Also makes it easier for other countries (think Canada and Scandanvian countries) to import wood and sell at a lower prices.  Another big market is housing and I understand that is on a slide also.  But yes, the US is a net importer of wood, and somehow domestic providers get ____(insert verb here).

Offline Forester Frank

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2001, 03:16:03 PM »
Wakefield has asked an interesting question, yet nobody has responded to it yet. Let's hear it!
Forester Frank

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2001, 04:46:49 PM »
LW

The bulk of the our imports come from Canada.  Remember that softwood trade agreement?  It help to keep Canadian imports out of the West.  Most of our softwood lumber in the East comes out of Canada.  Not even Pinkham could provide enough for the East Coast.

The primary softwood demand is in housing.  It has hit the skids.  The Fed thinks if you keep on reducing interest that people will start building again.  With job uncertainties, many people will stay put until they are sure things have settled down.

Another big user is commercial builders.  They only build when they need increased capacity.  Problem is, they now have over capacity and are downsizing.  Part of the weakest link.

For hardwoods, we lag 6 months behind softwood industry.  Hardwoods are used in trim, flooring, cabinets and furniture.  When housing skids, we are usually 6 months behind.

Hardwood exports go primarily to Europe.  Japan has been out of the picture for quite some time.  Europe is in a recession and have cut back on expensive US wood.  Germany has also become an exporter of lumber in recent years.  We also have to buck markets in Latvia, where there are expanses of white oak and cheaper transportation.

Low grade lumber goes into pallets.  Many pallets go into the automotive end.  Auto production has been down, so they don't need as many.  Railroad ties are holding their own, and buying is supposed to go up next year.

What I'm seeing now is that buyers have trimmed their inventories down, so we have bottomed out.  Prices aren't great and grade has slipped.  Buyers will beef up their inventories when demand starts to edge up.  

I don't think we will have a big boom any time soon.  We are over the worst, and those mills that don't have heavy debt loads or expensive timber should survive.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2001, 04:51:36 PM »
Swamp

That seems to be an awful lot of overstory to take for a shelterwood cut.  70% would be more like a seed tree cut.

My definition of a shelterwood cut is to thin the overstory and remove the understory.  I've seen it done by a paper company and looked real good.

After a few good seed years, then remove the overstory.  Red oak acorns are viable for up to 2 years.  Chestnut oak must germinate in the fall.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2001, 08:55:23 PM »
You're right, Ron W, 70% is a little high (I probably meant leave 50-70%, but I type fast sometimes and my brain doesn't keep up) and thinning the understory can be important.  I don't think of seed tree cuts applying to hardwoods.  

A shelterwood is a good method for oak, in my opinion, if a high percentage of leave trees are dominants and codominants.  Otherwise, it is just a waste of time and productivity.

Offline swampwhiteoak

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2001, 09:01:27 PM »
Ron,
Thanks for the quality economics lesson.  Do let us all know when we should put our money into timber futures  ;)  

Online Ron Wenrich

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2001, 03:16:48 PM »
Your money should be in timber futures right now.  But, only if your timber future is trees and not the commodities market. ;D

On the average, timber outstrips inflation by about 3%.

There are cycles in the hardwood markets that should be considered.  Oak and maple are opposite.  When one peaks, the other one tops.  Cycle length is about 30 years.

When I first started around hardwood mills, oak was worth very little.   My first job as a procurement forester was to buy tulip poplar.  I was told to buy no oak.  Then came the recession around 1974.

After that, people went to the open grained species, and oak took off.  That has started again, where maple is worth more than oak.  After this economic blip, I would expect maple to be high value again.

Oak prices won't fall, in the upper grades, but they won't go up like the other prices will.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2001, 06:43:07 AM »
I  just finished reading all ofthe post in this topic area.  WOW!  My learning curve is way off of the chart.  I will have to add another piece of paper today to extend that curve.  What a knowledge warehouse with you gentlemen on this forum.  I am honored with th totality of your true professional knowledge basis and your willingness to share.  I sure wish we had more of us from the West sharing some of the same kinds of ideas and knowledge as is coming from the East.  I know it is here, I just have to have the people spring lose with what it is they have learned and know about, more often. Again thank you all so very much for the curve improvements today. :P 8) 8) 8) 8)
Frank Pender

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2002, 05:42:34 PM »
Francis Marion National Forest to Grow by 4,000 acres

The USDA Forest Service is hailing a planned land acquisition for South Carolina's Francis Marion National Forest as the single largest addition to the forest since it was created in the 1930s. The Nature Conservancy announced purchase of 3,834 acres from International Paper for $8 million. The property is what many refer to as an "inholding", private land within the boundaries of the national forest, and is said to contain critical habitat for endangered species such as the red cockaded woodpecker.
~Ron

Offline Bud Man

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2002, 05:47:58 AM »
Frank,  I don't think the East is any smarter than the West, but they better be better at the application and usage of there knowledge because we,ve ravaged our forest 6 or 8  times and some of the pantries are bare . Ron's post about Francis Marrion Forest set aside is the East learning from the West .
The groves were God's first temples.. " A Forest Hymn"  by.. William Cullen Bryant

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: US Forest Facts and Trends
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2002, 04:53:00 PM »
Industry and EPA Agree to Phaseout Arsenic-Treated Lumber by 2003

The US Environmental Protection Agency and lumber producers reached an agreement that will phase out arsenic-treated lumber, a wood product commonly found in playgrounds, decks, and fences, by December 2003. The paseout comes amid growing concerns from both consumers and environmentalists that the wood can cause cancer in children.
~Ron


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