A consortium of private landowners, universities, state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, trade associations, and forest industries have come together as the White Oak Initiative, driven to increase the amount of white oak timber stands available in the future.
According to the group's website, white oak is a valued species for furniture, cabinetry, flooring and other secondary wood products. White oak is also critical to many wildlife species, as well as for recreational activities like hunting, generating billions of dollars to local economies throughout the white oak region.
While white oak growing stocks are currently sufficient to meet demand, forest monitoring, and long-term projections indicate problems to maintain high-quality white oak regeneration, according to the White Oak Initiative. Challenges facing white oak's widescale replenishment include:
- Lack of active forest management, leading to dense low-quality stands — shading the oak seedlings and preventing the growth of quality trees and the regeneration of new oak trees;
- Widespread invasive species and disease;
- Changing climate conditions affecting oak growth and regeneration;
- Marginalization and fragmentation of forest land; and
- Lack of recognition of long-term threats to oak forests.
The White Oak Initiative seeks to meet these challenges by improving existing stands of timber and replanting white oak on lands that are poorly stocked.
The White Oak Initiative was formed in late 2017. Its diverse membership includes the U.S. Forest Service, Kentucky Forest Industries Association, Beam Suntory, Independent State Company, Columbia Forest Products and National Wild Turkey Federation.
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