United States - Forestry



US forestland covered about 226 million hectares (558.4 million acres) in 2000, or 24.7% of the land area. Major forest regions include the eastern, central hardwood, southern, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific coast areas. The National Forest Service lands account for approximately 19% of the nation's forestland. Extensive tracts of land (4 million acres or more) are under ownership of private lumber companies in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Oregon, and Washington. During 1990–2000, forested area increased by an annual average of 38,000 ha (93,900 acres) per year.

Domestic production of roundwood during 2000 amounted to 500.4 million cu m (17.7 billion cu ft), of which softwoods accounted for roughly 60%. Other forest products in 2000 included 58.5 million metric tons of wood pulp, 86.5 million metric tons of paper and paperboard (excluding newsprint), and 45.5 million cu m (1.6 billion cu ft) of wood-based panels. Rising petroleum prices in the late 1970s sparked a revival in the use of wood as home heating fuel, especially in the Northeast. Fuelwood and charcoal production amounted to 71.9 million cu m (2.5 billion cu ft) in 2000.

Throughout the 19th century, the federal government distributed forestlands lavishly as a means of subsidizing railroads and education. By the turn of the century, the realization that the forests were not inexhaustible led to the growth of a vigorous conservation movement, which was given increased impetus during the 1930s and again in the late 1960s. Federal timberlands are no longer open for private acquisition, although the lands can be leased for timber cutting and for grazing. In recent decades, the states also have moved in the direction of retaining forestlands and adding to their holdings when possible.

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