The U.S. now has more trees than it did a century ago and maintains nearly the same extent of forest cover as in the early 1900s.
Major Influential Factors:
5 major factors have influenced the amount of U.S. forests:
Changes in Land Ownership:
Approximately 44% of U.S. forestlands are publicly owned, providing a stable base for forest preservation. Private solutions like land trusts and conservation easements also play a role.
Improved Wood Utilization:
Over the past 75+ years, improvements in forest productivity and wood utilization technologies have impacted both the availability and use of wood. Sawmills today have the ability to make use of more than 99% of a harvested log.
U.S. Forest Inventories:
Due to technological advancements in wood utilization, we are able to have a lower rate of harvest (a rate that has consistently been lower than net annual growth), and which contributes to the growth in U.S. forest inventories.
Land Use Patterns:
In the late 1800s and early 1900s: farming moved from the East to the Midwest, and the reliance on animal power in agriculture and transportation ended. Changes in land use patterns resulted in significant gains for forest area that they effectively offset forest loss due to urban and suburban expansion, resulting in a net stable forest area for the nation.
Emergence of Land Management Professions:
Since the late 1800s, more than 70 forestry programs offering two-year technical or higher degrees have been established at universities, colleges, and technical schools around the country. The emergence of forestry education programs have contributed significantly to forest growth and productivity.