Q: With all the cutting and harvest- ing of timber, will there be wood tomorrow? How long can we continue cutting until we run out of hardwoods?
A: We harvest about 11 billion board feet of hardwoods in the U.S. every year! Nearly half of the harvest is in the oak species. But the new growth, counting only hardwood trees 11 inches in diameter and greater, is more than 20 percent larger than the harvest (and that is after we also subtract those trees lost to insects, old age, and fire). So, we have substantially more hardwood sawtimber today than any time in the past 90-plus years and the volume keeps increasing in spite of our large harvests. Good news.
However, we do have a few problems. The trees right around the sawmills often have been harvested in recent decades, so mills have to go further for their trees. Plus, many land owners are not anxious to sell, thinking that a harvest will devastate their land. That isn't true; harvesting can enhance and benefit the land. And, unfortunately, if you like cherry or walnut, you certainly are aware that these species and a few others are in short supply. But, yellow poplar and others are quite plentiful!
This positive picture of our hardwood forests needs to be carried to the general public. The Southeast Lumber Manufacturers Assn., Forest Park, GA, has a script, visual aids, handouts, and more available to help us common folks make topnotch presentations to kids and adults about our renewable resources.
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