US Forest Growth Far Exceeds US Wood Demand

28 09 2011

The 1970 movie “Sometimes a Great Notion”, based on the novel by Ken Kesey, centers on an independent logger in Wakonda, Oregon, and a battle between the local logging union and a lumber conglomerate.  The patriarch of the logging family, played by Henry Fonda, says to his rebellious, long-haired, youngest son, played by Michael Sarrazin, “where did you get all that hair?”  And the son replies, “it grows.”

Trees grow, too.  All of the time.  Regardless market conditions.  And in the United States, we are REALLY good at growing trees and managing for volume.  In fact, total growing stock – forest inventory – from all forest owners and species increased 51% from 24.6 billion tons in 1953 to 37.3 billion tons in 2007. Despite increases in wood use from all forest products sectors over this time period (pulp and paper and wood products), especially in the 1990s through 2005, the overall volume in the forest in the United States has increased.

In addition, this growth has far exceeded forest harvesting and removal activity, which proxies wood demand in the United States.  While forest growth net of removals has been positive, it has varied by region over time. The West had the lowest net growth in 1976 of 7.6 million tons. Net growth in the West increased over time as forest industry activity in the region weakened. The South had the lowest net growth in 1996 of 21.1 million tons