The Bugwood Network

Forests and timberland


  • The U.S. has one of the world's largest and most productive forest resources. Most of its forests are managed on a sustainable basis and are concentrated along the eastern and western coasts and lake states, close to major ports.
  • The U.S. has 2,263,259,000 total acres of land area. Thirty-three percent, or 736,681,000 acres, are classified as forested acres (forest lands). Federal ownership is 34 percent of total forest land.
  • Overall, annual growth of U.S. forested acres exceeds harvests and losses to insects, fire, and disease by 33% each year in the commercial forests.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. forestlands contain forests capable of growing 20 cubic feet of commercial wood per acre per year.
  • U.S. timberland ownership is 59 percent private non-industrial, 14 percent forest industry, 10 percent national forest, and 17 percent other public.
  • Altogether, federal, state, and local governments own 131 million of the 490 million acres or 27 percent of commercial timberland in the U.S.
  • More than 270 million acres of federal land are set aside by various government agencies for use as wildlife refuges, parks, and wilderness areas.
  • Some 36 million acres of U.S. timberlands are reserved for non-timber uses through special legislation.
  • More than 10 million acres of old-growth forest can be found in Oregon, Washington, and California.
  • The U.S. has 8.25 million acres of old growth forest on federal lands in Oregon and Washington alone. More than half (57%) is preserved in parks, wilderness areas, and other legislative and judicial set-asides.
  • Approximately 7 million non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) owners hold 288 million acres of timberlands in the U.S.
  • In the U.S. only about 600,000 NIPF owners, or 8.7% of total owners, have holdings larger than 100 acres.
  • The nation's forest land area is still about two-thirds the size it was in the year 1600, in spite of the conversion of 370 million acres of forest land to other uses, principally to agriculture.
  • More trees are growing in America's forests today than at any time since the early 1900's.
  • In 1900, forest growth rates were a fraction of harvest. Today, overall annual forest growth exceeds harvest by 37%.
  • Net annual forest growth has increased 62% since 1952, and total growth per acre has increased 71%.
  • Nationally, standing timber volume per acre in U.S. forests is 30% greater today than in 1952.
  • On a per acre basis, net annual tree growth in the U.S. is 52 cubic feet compared with 27 in Canada and 24 in Russia.
  • Annual growth in National Forests now exceeds harvest by more than 55%.
  • 47% of the nation's standing softwood sawtimber inventory is located in federally-owned National Forests.
  • 70% of America's National Forest land base is in land-use categories where timber production is forbidden. 30% remains open to varying levels of harvest activity.
  • Net loss of U.S. forests from roads, buildings, and urban expansion is expected to be 28 million acres over the next 50 years, by the year 2040.


  • Seventy percent of U.S. timberland acres are located in the eastern half of the country.
  • Forestry is a major resource in the 13 Southern states with two to three of every five acres devoted to forest production.
  • The U.S. South, composed of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia has 211,838,000 forested acres, 40 percent of total land area.
  • Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia average approximately 65 percent of total land area in forest.
  • There are some 5 million owners of Southern timberland.
  • In the U.S. South, private landowners own over 90% of forestland.
  • Farmers own 19.5 percent of the South's timberland; other private, non-industrial landowners own 42.5 percent; forest products industries own 20 percent; corporate non-forest industry owns 8 percent; and the public owns 10 percent.


  • Georgia's total land area is 37,068,000 acres, of which 65 percent is forested; more forest acres than any other state.
  • Georgia's timberland owners number around 650,000.
  • Of Georgia's 23,631,000 timber acres, 752,000 acres are in national forests, 894,000 acres are other private, 4,990,000 acres are owned by forest industry, and 16,995,000 acres are owned by farmers and other private landowners.
  • Hardwoods cover 53 percent of the timber land in Georgia, and pine makes up the remaining 47 percent.
  • The most prevalent hardwood species in Georgia are oak, maple, and sweetgum.
  • In Georgia, loblolly and slash are the primary pine species.
  • The state's coastal plain and piedmont areas are home to most of Georgia's many pines and other softwood species such as cypress and cedar.
  • Georgia is second in the nation with more than 4,600 certified Tree Farms that total nearly eight million acres.
  • Georgia was the first state in the nation to license professional foresters. Today, the state has some 1,200 licensed professional foresters.
  • An estimated 92% of Georgia's commercial forest acreage is in compliance with Best Management Practices (BMPs), which are voluntary guidelines that ensure water quality is protected during forestry operations.
  • The Georgia Forestry Association has announced a goal of 100 percent voluntary compliance with BMPs by the year 2000.

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The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Thursday, May 09, 2002 at 12:50 PM
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