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Forestry Highlights

This page will give you information about environmental requirements relating specifically to establishments that operate timber tracts, tree farms, forest nurseries, and related activities, such as reforestation services and the gathering of gums, barks, balsam needles, maple sap, Spanish moss, and other forest products.

Facts and Figures

Industry Groups
Establishments involved in forestry operations are classified in NAICS Code 113. 15763In 2012 there were 15,763 forestry establishment listed under the NAICS Code 113. These establishments are divided among three distinct industry groups:

Forest Land
The U.S. Forest Service defines a forested area as "forest land" if it is at least 1 acre in size and at least 10 percent occupied by forest trees of any size or formerly having had such tree cover and not currently developed for non-forest use.(Examples of nonforest uses include areas for crops, improved pasture, residential areas, and other similar areas.) Forest land includes transition zones, such as areas between heavily forested and nonforested lands that are at least 10 percent stocked with forest trees, and forest areas adjacent to urban and built-up lands.

The United States has about  751.2million acres of forest land. (U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012; 2007 data) Of that land, approximately 249.1 million acres (33.8 percent) are owned by the Federal Government. The remaining 487.6 million acres are owned by nonfederal entities, such as State or local governments, private citizens, or companies.

The majority of Federal forest land is managed as the national forest system (NFS). The NFS includes:

The NFS manages 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands and contains 193 million acres, (193/112) or 77 percent, of Federal forest lands. The NFS is contained in 44 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and employs 30,000 people. Of the remaining nonfederal forests, privately held commercial forest lands make up the largest portion, accounting for 347 million acres (71 percent). (National Forest Service)

Seven-Tenths of U.S. forest lands, or 514.2 million acres of the total 751.2 million acres of forest land, are classified as timberlands. Timberlands are defined as forest lands used for the production of commercial wood products. Commercial timberland can be used for repeated growing and harvesting of trees.

Of the 514.2 million acres of timberland, Federal, State, and local governments own 112.7 million acres (22 percent) and non-industrial private entities own 401.5 million acres (78 percent). Private timberlands are mostly on small tracts of forest land. (U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012; 2007 data)

Consumption of Forestry Products
The United States is one of the world's leading producers and consumers of forest products. Before the 2008-2009 global recession, which pushed the forest product industry into a recession as well, the United States was the world's leading producer and consumer of forest products. In December 2012, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that the global forest products industry began recovering from the economic crisis and China has begun to emerge as a leading producer and consumer.  Other top producers include Canada, Brazil, Russia, Germany, and Japan. The United States is the world's largest producer of industrial roundwood, sanwood, and fibre furnish (2011 Global Forest Products Facts and Figures).

The U.S. forest products industry produces $200 billion in sales a year and employs about one million workers.  The forest production industry is also the leading generator and user of renewable energy.  In 2011 the U.S. forest production industry recovered 66.8 percent of paper consumed.

Trend in US Forestland Area 1630 to Present

U.S. National Forest Service. About Us - Meet the Forest Service. Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/meetfs.shtml>.Exit EPA

USDA, Forest Service. National Forest System Statistics FY 2010. Jan. 2011. Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/statistics/nfs-brochure-2010.pdf>Exit EPA

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Forestry Department. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 Country Report United States. 2010. Web. <http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/al658E/al658E.pdf>Exit EPA

Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations. Forest Products Industry Slowly Recovers from Recession. 18 Dec. 2012. Web. <http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/166938/icode/>.Exit EPA

Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations. 2011 Global Forest Products Facts and Figures. 17 Dec. 2012. Web. <http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/newsroom/docs/2011%20GFP%20Facts%20and%20Figures.pdf>.Exit EPA

USDA, Forest Service. Forest Products. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.fs.fed.us/research/forest-products/>.Exit EPA



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Alternatives to Methyl Bromide

Case studies illustrate the fact that materials do exist which can manage pests where methyl bromide is now used. The alternative materials and methods discussed here are not intended to be complete replacements for methyl bromide, but tools which are effective on the pests that are currently controlled by this pesticide.

More information from EPA
Methyl Bromide
Methyl Bromide Alternatives

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Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection -- Forestry Category

Cooperative Forestry Assistance
Cooperative Forestry Assistance helps State Foresters or equivalent agencies with forest stewardship programs on private, State, local, and other non-Federal forest and rural lands, plus rural communities and urban areas. This assistance is provided through the following programs: Forest Stewardship Program, Stewardship Incentive Program, Economic Action Programs, Urban and Community Forestry Program, Cooperative Lands Forest Health Protection Program, and Cooperative Lands Fire Protection Program. These programs help to achieve ecosystem health and sustainability by improving wildlife habitat, conserving forest land, reforestation, improving soil and water quality, preventing and suppressing damaging insects and diseases, wildfire protection, expanding economies of rural communities, and improving urban environments.

More information from EPA
Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection
Forest Legacy Program
Forestry on Indian Lands
Healthy Forests Reserve Program
Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost-Share Grants

Forestry Incentives Program
The Forestry Incentives Program (FIP) is intended to ensure the Nation's ability to meet future demand for sawtimber, pulpwood, and quality hardwoods. FIP provides cost-share monies (up to 65 percent of total cost) to help with the costs of tree planting, timber stand improvements, and related practices on nonindustrial private forest lands. In addition to ensuring a future supply of timber, FIP's forest maintenance and reforestation provides numerous natural resource benefits, including reduced soil erosion and wind and enhanced water quality and wildlife habitat.

More information from USDA
Forestry Incentives Program

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Climate Change

The most intensively managed industry and private forestlands may be least at risk of long-term decline from the impacts of climate change because the relatively high value of these resources is likely to encourage adaptive management strategies. Private forest managers have the financial incentive and the flexibility to protect against extensive loss from climate-related impacts. They can use several available techniques: short rotations to reduce the length of time that a tree is influenced by unfavorable climate conditions; planting of improved varieties developed through selection, breeding, or genetic engineering to reduce vulnerability; and thinning, weeding, managing pests, irrigating, improving drainage, and fertilizing to improve general vigor. Such actions would reduce the probability of moisture stress and secondary risks from fire, insects, and disease. However, the more rapid the rate of climate change, the more it may strain the ability to create infrastructure for seeding or planting of trees, or to support the supply of timber if there is a large amount of salvage. A fast rate of warming also may limit species constrained by slow dispersal rates and/or habitat fragmentation, or those that are already stressed by other factors, such as pollution.

More information from EPA
Climate Change Information
Climate Change - Forests

Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry
Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture

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Management Measures To Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Forestry

This guidance document is intended to provide technical assistance to state water quality and forestry program managers, nonindustrial private forest owners, industrial forest owners, and others involved with forest management on the best available, most eco-nomically achievable means of reducing the nonpoint source pollution of surface and groundwaters that can result from forestry activities. The guidance:

The guidance is national in scope, so it does not address local or regional soils, climates, or forest types.

More information from EPA
Polluted Runoff: Forestry - managing nonpoint source pollution from forestry activities
National Management Measures To Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Forestry
(April 2005, EPA 841-B-05-001)
Download full Guidance (National Management Measures To Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Forestry) in PDF (276 pp, 17.7MB)
Get a free printed copy of the guidance document -- call the Water Resource Center at (202) 566-1729 and ask for document number EPA 841-B-05-001.

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Managing Non-Point-Source Pollution in Coastal Waters

EPA specifies management measures to protect coastal waters from silvicultural sources of non-point pollution.

Management Measures
"Management measures" are defined in section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (CZARA) as economically achievable measures to control the addition of pollutants to our coastal waters, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available nonpoint pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives.

These management measures will be incorporated by States into their coastal non-point programs, which under CZARA are to provide for the implementation of management measures that are "in conformity" with this guidance. Under CZARA, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop and implement their Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Programs in conformity with this guidance and will have some flexibility in doing so.

Management Practices
In addition to specifying management measures, EPA also lists and describes management practices for illustrative purposes only. While State programs are required to specify management measures in conformity with this guidance, State programs need not specify or require implementation of the particular management practices described by EPA. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measures generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the site, location, type of operation, and climate. The practices have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measures. EPA has also used some of these practices, or appropriate combinations of these practices, as a basis for estimating the effectiveness, costs, and economic impacts of achieving the management measures.

More information from EPA
Guidance Specifying Management Measures for Sources of Nonpoint Pollution in Coastal Waters
Forestry Chapter Fact sheet
Management Measures for Forestry
Guidance Documents and Manuals

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Pollution Prevention / Environmental Impact Reduction Checklist

Forestry activities can have a variety of impacts on the environment. Sediment concentrations can increase in waterbodies due to accelerated erosion; water temperatures can increase due to removal of overstory riparian shade; slash and other organic debris can accumulate in waterbodies, depleting dissolved oxygen; organic and inorganic chemical concentrations in the environment can increase due to harvesting and fertilizer and pesticide applications; and air quality can be affected by dust from road construction, site preparation, harvesting, and hauling activities and by particulate release from prescription slash burning. A major consideration in many ecosystems is the impact of monoculture forestry that simplifies the ecosystem, leaving it vulnerable to disease and other environmental factors. The use of pollution prevention in forestry activities can reduce these environmental effects.

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Wetlands Silviculture

A long-standing silvicultural issue affecting forested wetlands in the Southeast has been resolved by adopting an innovative approach, developed in coordination with forestry industry, environmental community, and State and Federal representatives. The resolution clarifies the applicability of forested wetlands best management practices to mechanical silvicultural site preparation activities for the establishment of pine plantations in the Southeast. Mechanical silvicultural site preparation activities conducted in accordance with the best management practices discussed below, which are designed to minimize impacts to the aquatic ecosystem, will not require a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit. These best management practices further recognize that certain wetlands should not be subject to unpermitted mechanical silvicultural site preparation activities because of the adverse nature of potential impacts associated with these activities on these sites.

More information from EPA
Wetlands Silviculture Site Preparation Guidance and Resolution of Silviculture Issue

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Other Federal Agencies

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Universities Exit EPA

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Other Organizations Exit EPA

Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA)
The national sustainable farming information center operated by the private nonprofit National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). ATTRA provides technical assistance on sustainable farming production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, and innovative marketing to farmers, extension agents, market gardeners, agricultural researchers, and other ag professionals in all 50 states.

ATTRA Publications
Agroforestry - These resources offer detailed information on production of specific horticultural crops, focusing on sustainable and organic production methods for traditional produce.

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