High quality North American hardwood lumber and veneer is increasingly exported and used worldwide. A large portion of the timber resource utilized in the production of these products is contained within the northern region of the eastern United States. The cubic volume of this resource has increased by 15% since 2000, with most of this increase occurring in trees greater than 43.2 cm diameter at breast height. Although the volume of high-quality timber is likely at its highest level in over 100 years, 60% of the increase in the volume between 2008 and 2017 was in sawtimber-size (27.9 cm and larger) trees of low quality. Region wide, the species group "other white oaks" had the largest increase in high-quality volume. The largest increases in low-quality volume were for the soft maple and "other red oaks" species groups. While the volume of poletimber (12.7 to 27.7 cm) growing stock decreased between 2008 and 2017, the volume of cull poletimber-size trees increased more than 50%. These trends indicate a future decline in timber quality. Research is needed to determine the cause of these declines and how they may be reversed. One question that should be examined is the role of natural mortality and damage versus human disturbance on timber quality.
Luppold, William G.; Bumgardner, Matthew S. 2019. Changes in the quality of the northern U.S. hardwood timber resource from 2008 to 2017. BioResources. 14(3): 6304-6315. https://doi.org/10.15376/biores.14.3.6304-6315.