U.S. Forest Facts on Forestland

Forestry Land Trend Data in the United States

The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of  the U.S. Forest Service  collects forest facts needed to assess America's forests. FIA coordinates the only continuous national forest census. This particular collection of forest data started in 1950 and is used to project how forests are likely to appear in 10 to 50 years. This forest data also provides a facinating view of our forests from a historical perspective.

1
Forest Fact: U.S. Forest Area Stablized

United States Forest Area Since 1760. USFS/FIA

Since 1900, forest area in the U.S. has remained statistically within 745 million acres +/-5% with the lowest point in 1920 of
735 million acres. U.S. forest area in 2000 was about 749 million acres.

Source: National Report on Forest Resources

2
Forest Fact: Forest Area By U.S. Region

Regional forest trends in the 48 States, 1760-2000. USFS/FIA

Original forests in what is now the U.S. totaled about 1.05 billion acres (including what is now the State of AK and HI). Clearing of forest land in the East between 1850 and 1900 averaged 13 square miles every day for 50 years; the most prolific period of forest clearing in U.S. history. This coincides with one of the most prolific periods of U.S. immigration. Currently, forests cover about 749 million acres of the U.S. or about 33 percent of all land.

Source: National Report on Forest Resources

3
Forest Fact: U.S. Forest Ownership Acres Stable

Area of productive unreserved forest by major owner group, 1953-2002. USFS/FIA

The acreage of all private and public forests have remained the same over the last half century.  The area of productive unreserved forest and (timberland) has remained stable for the last 50 years. The reserved (timberlands where cutting is not allowed) are actually increasing.

Source: National Report on Forest Resources

4
Forest Fact: Forest Trees in U.S Getting Larger

Numbers of live trees by diameter, 1977 and 2002. USFS/FIA

As forests mature the average number of small trees tends to decline due to natural competition and the number of large trees increases. This pattern is evident in the U.S. over the past 25 years., although it may vary by region and historic conditions such as harvesting and catastrophic events such as fire. There are currently nearly 300 billion trees at least 1-inch in diameter in the U.S.

Source: National Report on Forest Resources

5
Forest Fact: Forest Trees in U.S Growing in Volume

Growing stock growth, removals, and mortality, 1953-2002. USFS/FIA

Tree volumes since 1950 have increased and most importantly not dropped. The U.S. now grows more wood, in the form of  living trees, than in the last 60 years. Total volume of net growth has slowed in recent years but still ahead of tree volume being cut. Removals have also stabilized but imports are on the rise. While total tree death, called mortality, is up, the rate of mortality as percent of live volume is stable.

Source: National Report on Forest Resources

6
Forest Fact: Private U.S. Tree Owners Supply the World

Growing stock harvest by major owner, region and year. USFS/FIA

As public policy has shifted, tree cutting (removals) has moved dramatically from public land in the West to private land in the East in the last 15 years. This commercial forest, America's tree farm, is the major supplier of wood in the United States. Most of these tree farms are located in the east and continue to increase both growth and resulting product.