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    The United States has a diverse array of forest cover types on its 747 million acres of forest land. Forests in the United States have been shaped by many natural and human-caused forces, including climate, physiography, geology, soils, water, fire, land use changes, timber harvests, and other human interventions. The major purpose of this document is to describe area projections of forest cover changes on timberland areas of the United States, in support of the 2000 Resources Planning Act assessment by the USDA Forest Service. Forest area projections differ markedly by region, owner, and forest cover type. Although some regions such as the North are projected to have relatively small percentage changes in common types such as maple-beech-birch (less than 5 percent), others in the South have relatively large projected changes: reductions of 19 percent for upland hardwood on nonindustrial private forest timberlands and 58 percent on forest industry timberlands in the South Central region; and increases in excess of 25 percent for planted pine for both private ownerships in the South. Although the area of softwoods is projected to increase across many regions of the country, especially on forest industry lands, hardwoods will remain the dominant forest type on private lands.

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    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Alig, Ralph J.; Butler, Brett J. 2004. Area changes for forest cover types in the United States, 1952 to 1997, with projections to 2050. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-613. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 106 p


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    Forest land area, forest type transitions, succession, forest cover, timber harvesting, Renewable Resources Planning Act

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