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Forests of U.S. Overstocked, Data Shows

A recent U.S. Forest Service report Relative density of United States forests has shifted to higher levels over last two decades with important implications for future dynamics | Treesearch (usda.gov) states that “that 90% of U.S. forested land is reaching maximum density, nearing a competitive state that could increase vulnerability to disturbance”. This report provides more evidence that lack of active forest management is leading to declining forest health and increases in tree mortality. Decades of forest research and experience have consistently shown, across a wide range of forest types, conditions, and locations, that well-timed partial harvests, including treatments known as thinning, improvement thinning, crop-tree management, and selection harvests, reduce mortality and increase the growth and vigor of the remaining trees.

Foresters are trained to design harvest treatments that align with the biological realities of forest development. When forests are thinned properly useful products and produced. Forest products can store carbon for many years or even decades. In addition, after a partial harvest the remaining trees grow faster (for example Crop-Tree Release Increases Black Birch Diameter Growth | Publications | SRS (usda.gov)), leading to faster removal of Carbon Dioxide from the air, a process called carbon sequestration.


This Forest Service report and the research paper on increased diameter growth are available at the following links with no charge:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-98244-w

https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/6876


-Michael Ferrucci

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