Modern forestry standards in North America ensure a continuous cycle of growing, harvesting and replanting. Demand for wood products encourages forest owners to keep their lands as forests and invest in practices to keep trees healthy – instead of clearing them for other uses like agriculture or development. Data shows that global regions with the highest levels of industrial timber harvest and forest product output are also regions with the lowest rates of deforestation. Active forest management, or forest thinning, mitigates wildfires, can cut carbon emissions, replenishes area waterways, and expands wildlife habitat while creating jobs in rural areas.
Are there enough trees in North America?
In short, yes. In both the U.S. and Canada, responsible forest management has resulted in more than 50 consecutive years of net growth that exceeds annual harvests. A 2021 study on the impact of long-term demand for wood products on U.S. forests, found that forest growth exceeded harvest levels — even in the most conservative scenario, using the lowest estimate of growth and the highest estimate of harvest volumes required to meet incremental demand for both lumber and mass timber in 2035.
How do I know if wood is from legal and sustainable sources?
Architects, engineers, and other design professionals can be assured that timber is harvested sustainably through systems like responsible fiber sourcing standards, and certification of mills, forest management certification, and underpinned by a robust set of state defined best management practices (BMPs) at the forest level. More than 90% of the world’s certified forests are in the northern hemisphere, and almost half is in North America. The U.S. accounts for 9% of the world’s certified forestland.
How is forest health and inventory tracked in the U.S.?
Forest management is a historic practice that today is high tech. The USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) is among the most robust, longest running national forest inventory and analysis systems in the world. FIA has been in continuous operation since 1930, publishing the most current information about forest health and productivity in each state every five years. It uses the latest technologies to acquire data through remote sensing and field activities in cooperation with states, industry, academia, and private landowner partners.
What is climate smart forestry and how can I specify wood from that type of forest?
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization defines climate-smart forestry as building on the concepts of sustainable forest management, with a strong focus on climate and ecosystem services. It builds on three mutually reinforcing components:
Increasing carbon storage in forests and wood products, in conjunction with the provisioning of other ecosystem services
Enhancing forest health and resilience through climate change adaptive forest management
Using wood resources sustainably to substitute non-renewable, carbon-intensive materials
While there’s no current system to certify ‘climate-smart’ wood products, U.S. forest carbon stocks are healthy and growing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which assesses annual forest stocks.
How many acres of certified forests are in the U.S.?
There are about 96 million acres of certified forests in the U.S., which is about 19% of total U.S. timberland—well above the global average of 11%. 11% of the world’s forest area, or 1 billion acres, is certified. More than 90% of the certified area is in the northern hemisphere, and almost half is in North America. The U.S. accounts for 9% of the world’s certified forestland.
How can I ensure that wood I source is harvested sustainably?
Architects, engineers, and other design professionals can be assured that timber is harvested sustainably through mechanisms like forest management certification, responsible fiber sourcing standards, and certification of mills, and underpinned by a robust set of state defined best management practices (BMPs) at the forest level.
Forest management certification: Forest certification assesses a landowner’s forest management against a series of agreed standards related to water quality, biodiversity, wildlife, and forests with exceptional conservation value.
Fiber sourcing standards: Fiber sourcing is another type of certification aimed at the mills to limit the risk of fiber coming from undesirable sources like high-conservation forests or illegally harvested forests.
How many seedlings do working forests plant each year as compared to the number of trees you harvest?
The forest sector replants over 783 million seedlings per year. According to a 2021 study by the University of Washington - CINTRAFOR, 23 seedlings are planted per thousand board feet of lumber produced. The rate of replanting varies by region, species, and other factors so there’s not an exact tree for tree figure. It ranges from two to five seedlings per tree harvested.
Sustainable Specification Resources
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