Some Forest Facts

  • U.S. forest land consists of 747 million acres, which is 33% of the total U.S. land area and 8.8% of global forest land.
  • 25% of the U.S. land area (504 million acres) is available to produce timber resources for commercial forest products.
  • Private landowners, roughly 10 million, own 58% of forests, while 29% is public ownership and 13% is owned by the forest products industry.
  • The U.S. has some of the best tree-growing lands in the world and today, net forest growth surpasses harvest by 47%.
  • It is estimated that in the next 5 decades at least 17 million acres of forest land will be lost permanently to urbanization and development.
  • Forests are renewable and we have the science and experience necessary to manage this resource in a safe, cost-effective, attractive, and socially acceptable manner.
  • Forests in the U.S. cover 70 percent as much land as they did in 1600.
  • About 1/3 or 751 million acres of the entire U.S. landmass is covered with forest.
  • Each year 1.6 billion trees are planted in the U.S., which is about 6 for every tree we use.
  • More trees are growing in America’s forests today than at any other time since the 1890s.
  • Standing timber volume per acre in U.S. forests today is 30 percent greater than in 1952.
  • Today, annual forest growth rates in commercial forests exceed harvest and losses to disease and insects by 33 percent.
  • Wood is a very energy efficient material to produce, process, and transport. Cement, steel, and plastics require factories that consume far more energy, usually fossil fuels, to produce.
  • Wood is produced in a factory powered entirely by solar energy–the forest!
  • A single tree can absorb more than 10 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

Forest products are important to the U.S. economy.  Private, working forests support 2.5 million jobs, $235 billion in annual revenues, $87 billion in payroll, $4.4 billion in state income and severance taxes, and $102 billion to the GDP.

All of the above are courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.


Some Forest Myths and Facts

Myth Fact
A natural forest supports more ecological diversity than a managed forest. Managed forests, even those with some clearcutting, often produce more biodiversity than completely natural forests, according to U.S. Forest Service studies in the Lake States and New England. Even tree farm plantations contain a rich mosaic of plant and animal life.
Forest management harms wildlife. Forest management helps wildlife. Forest management creates openings that stimulate the growth of food services – which is the prime reason why forest species such as elk, deer, turkey, and antelope are far more plentiful today than earlier in the century.
We’re running out of old-growth trees in our ancient forests. In the U.S. today there are 13.2 million acres of old-growth, i.e., large trees 200 years of age or older. The vast majority of these trees – comprising an area the size of New Jersey and Massachusetts combined – will remain in their natural condition and will never be harvested due to legal and regulatory prohibitions on logging, road building, and even fire fighting.
Clearcutting, the practice of harvesting most trees in a given area, destroys the forest. Clearcutting is a sound practice that benefits future forests. By mimicking natural wildfires, clearcutting is widely recognized by forest scientists and even by conservation groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, American Forests, and the Society of American Foresters as an ecologically sound technique for reforesting many softwood species. That’s because conifer seedlings typically require sunlight from an open canopy and cannot survive in shade. Also, young, vigorously growing trees have a higher absorption rate of CO2 than mature trees, thus helping keep greenhouse gases a bay.
We only have 5% of the original ancient forests left that once covered the Pacific Northwest in the pre-European settlement era. This figure wrongly assumes that the coastal Northwest was covered with old trees before the arrival of settlers from the East. According to U.S. government studies, no more than a third of the region’s forest was covered with old-growth trees at any time. Natural wildfires and fires set by Native Americans routinely cleared vast swaths of old forests.

Wood Pallets and The Environment

Pallets made from wood meet the four R’s criteria: They are reusable, repairable, recyclable and they come from a renewable resource.  Wood is the only 100% renewable, recyclable, and reusable product available. The most commonly used alternative pallets are made from oil and gas, which are limited to fossil fuels.

The pallet industry receives an estimated 170 million wood pallets for repair and recycling each year and that number is growing according to the Virginia Tech Center for Forest Products Marketing.

Wood fiber created by grinding up worn out pallets is used to create products such as fuel pellets, insulation, pressed logs, decorative landscape mulches, home building materials, and many other environmentally friendly items.

According to a Modern Materials Handling pallet user survey, 73% of pallets are recycled and are one of the most recycled products in the U.S. Aluminum cans are recycled at a rate of 66.5%, paper at 50% and plastic recycling is still under 20%.

Wood pallets and containers use derivative lumber that is strong and durable but has a low cosmetic value. It would likely be discarded if it were not for wood packaging usage.

If a pallet does end up in a landfill, it is biodegradable. Less than 3% of the nearly 700 million pallets manufactured and repaired ever end up in landfills. That’s according to a study by Virginia Tech and the USDA Forestry Service.

Studies have shown that it takes less energy to make products from wood than other materials – products made from aluminum, glass, plastic, cement, and brick can require as much as 126 times more energy than making them from wood. Moreover, virtually every part of a log is used as lumber or a wood by-product and finished hardwood products are re-useable, recyclable, and biodegradable. Across the world, scientists, environmentalists, and politicians are calling on everyone to take action to lessen their individual carbon footprints. Consumers can accomplish just that by incorporating more U.S. hardwood products into their homes and businesses.

Above comes from the American Hardwood Information Center’s article “Carbon Dioxide, Climate Change and Hardwoods”

One of the most environmentally friendly building and design materials is American hardwoods. When considered through life cycle assessment (LCA) against other materials, hardwoods are favored for their extremely long service life, low carbon footprint, and eco-friendly disposal or repurposing at the conclusion of their useful lives.

Environmentalists agree that hardwood is a carbon-neutral substance because, while living, trees sequester substantial amounts of carbon in their cellular structure. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the dry weight of a tree is carbon. Overly mature trees, however, will release carbon into the atmosphere; thus the importance of responsibly managing forests and harvesting mature trees.

Responsibly managing forests and the sustained harvesting and processing of mature trees result in new tree growth and the continued sequestration of carbon. Each year for the last 50 years, American hardwood forests stored nearly 110 million tons of carbon dioxide (excluding all harvested material). This direct contribution of America’s hardwood forests to carbon sequestration excludes the carbon held in long-term storage as a component of American hardwood products. The conversion of wood into products such as wood packaging (pallets and crates), flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and molding, contributes to the long-term removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. With useful lives spanning generations, finished products crafted of American hardwoods act as an additional carbon store for many decades.

Hardwoods play an important role in reducing America’s overall carbon footprint.

  • When a young forest is growing, it produces one ton of oxygen and absorbs 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of wood.
  • Trees actually sequester carbon into the wood, meaning it will not be released into the atmosphere.
  • Carbon emissions associated with manufacturing wood products are less than the carbon stored within the wood during its growth cycle.
  • The United States has 20% more trees today than it on the first Earth Day celebration more than 40 years ago.
  • One-third of the U.S. is forested, which totals 751 million acres.  Privately-owned forests provide 91% of the trees harvested in the U.S.
  • Wood products make up 47% of all industrial raw materials produced in the U.S., yet consume only 4% of the total energy needed to manufacture ALL industrial raw materials.

The volume of hardwoods in American forests today is 90 percent larger than it was 50 years ago. And the U.S. Forest Service forecasts indicate that further increases of 15 to 20 percent are expected in the hardwood growing inventory through 2030.

Above info comes from the article “How Selecting Material Impacts Our Lives, American Hardwoods, and Life Cycle Assessment” from The Hardwood Council

Energy Efficient – It takes less energy to make products from wood than other materials. Making products from aluminum, glass, plastic, cement, or brick can require as much as 126 times more energy than making them from wood.

Easy on the Environment – Virtually every part of a log is used as lumber or by-products, and finished products are re-useable, recyclable, and biodegradable.

Renewing Resource – The USDA Forest Service reports that more hardwoods grow than are harvested each year. Since 1953, the volume of hardwoods in American forests has increased by 119%. Supply is increasing, and it is sustainable.

Natural Regeneration – By mirroring natural occurrences, hardwood forestry practices are a long-established form of biomimicry that supports natural regeneration.

Above comes from Hardwood Council’s Fast Facts on North American Hardwoods

They have provided new and recycled pallets to my business for years. Great service and pricing.

- Christopher R.


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