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Utilizing forest resources.

The USA has the timber resources to sustain the wood products industry as long as we continue to manage our forests and production operations wisely.

Woodworkers are concerned over the availability of timber supplies in the United States due to environmental pressures to set-aside more public forestlands for parks, recreation, environmental conservation and other non-industrial uses. We have seen this happen in the Pacific Northwest with more forestlands being removed from commercial use to protect the environment of the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act.

Fortunately, most hardwoods are located on private forestlands and have not been subject to the administrative appeals that have blocked timber sales on federal forestlands. However, many of the restrictions faced by federal forestlands could be forced on private landowners. The Endangered Species Act, Wetland restrictions, pollution constraints and other environmental regulations are inhibiting private landowners' ability to manage their forestlands.

Some environmentalists say that the United States is running out of timber because the industry is harvesting is faster than it is growing. However, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the net volume of growing timber is actually increasing.

* The forested timberlands of the U.S. now contain more than 125 billion cubic feet more than they did just 35 years ago. That's 20 percent more standing timber volume than in 1952.

* Hardwood volumes have increased in every region of the U.S. and there is 70% more now than 35 years ago.

* Every day the forest products industry, together with forest agencies plant more than 6 million trees.

* The U.S. has 756 billion cubic feet of sound wood in inventory.

* Currently the United States is growing almost twice as much hardwood sawtimber volume as is being used.

* Most of this hardwood is growing on the 194 million acres of private hardwood forestlands in the East.

* The forest products industry owns nearly 29 million acres of hardwood forests. These forests are more productive than those owned by government.

In 1991, timberland owners, corporations and government agencies planted 1.68 billion seedlings -- more than seven trees for each American -- to reforest America's forestlands. In addition, millions of acres of forest, usually oak, maple and other hardwood trees, are managed to ensure they regenerate naturally. Because of this aggressive planting and forest management effort, the United States each year grows about one-third more wood than it harvests or loses to fire, insects and diseased combined. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that hardwood forests are currently growing 1.8 board feet for every board foot harvested. Softwood forests are growing 1.3 board feet for every board foot cut. Clearly, we are not running out of trees and our nation's forests have the capability to meet our timber resource needs for generations to come.

America is blessed with substantial quantities of a wide variety of hardwoods. Unfortunately, not all hardwoods are equally desirable to the end user. There is also wide disparity in terms of quality and value among the various hardwoods. This presents a major problems for hardwood producers in their attempt to market the variety of hardwood species and grades that come from our forestlands. There are a handful of hardwood species that sell very well in both domestic and export markets. The major challenge for our hardwood industry is to develop a greater demand for the lesser-used species and to find ways to better utilize our abundant lower grade timber resources. The dimension industry is meeting this challenge by producing usable wood products from lower grade lumber and lesser utilized species.

The hardwood lumber and dimension industry needs to encourage our customers to utilize more of the character portion of the hardwood lumber supply. There is an effort being made in this country to conserve natural resources, save trees and recycle materials. Unfortunately, many hardwood furniture and cabinet manufacturers continue to demand only the most prime, character-free portions of the hardwood resource. For example, furniture and cabinet manufacturers often specify uniformly colored and matched grain red oak, white only (no heartwood) hard maple and poplar, sap-free white oak and cherry and fleck-free birch to name a few.

Because the industry is not using the character portions of the available hardwood lumber supply, we are wasting a tremendous amount of the forest resource. We are all paying for this and we will continue to pay until we learn to effectively utilize a higher portion of the existing forest resource. Our industry needs to inform our customers about the natural characteristics of hardwoods and encourage the consumer to accept sound, but character-enhanced wood. We need to tell the consumer that uniformity of wood is manmade whereas variations are considered a natural part of the wood.

The positive result of the timber situation is that woodworkers will develop ways to improve their lumber yields and reduce waste and labor costs. This has created a significant demand for new and better woodworking machinery industry is responding to this growing need by developing computerized optimizing equipment that has improved yields in the sawmill, rough mill and finish mill. Since lumber accounts for nearly half of the total cost of producing dimension products, any improvement in lumber yields will make a significant impact on the bottom line.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:10th Annual Dimension Purchasing Guide
Author:Lawser, Steve
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Previous Article:Dimension association responds to industry challenges.
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