An Analysis of the Timber Situation in
the United States: 1989-2040
A technical supporting document for the 1989 RPA
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TIMBER RESOURCE SITUATION: 1989-2040
The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974
as amended by the National Forest Management Act of 1976 directs the Secretary of
Agriculture to prepare a Renewable Resource Assessment. The purpose of this assessment is
to analyze the timber resource situation in order to provide indications of the future
cost and availability of timber products to meet the Nation's demands. The analysis also
identifies developing resource situations that may be judged desirable to change and it
identifies developing opportunities that may stimulate both private and public
investments. The study is primarily concerned with prospective trends in demands and
supplies of timber and to determinants of these trends, the implications of these trends,
the land and timber resource base, and the opportunities to manage and use this resource
base to meet private and public sector goals.
TRENDS IN PRODUCT CONSUMPTION
Trends in consumption of timber products reflect the interactions of
variables that determine demands and supplies. Increases in U.S. population, income, and
economic activity have been strong forces in the growth of demand for timber products. The
availability of supplies of roundwood and timber products also influenced the amount of
timber products consumed. For example, the development of the softwood plywood industry in
the South had a dramatic effect on the availability of wood for use in home construction.
Increased imports of softwood lumber from Canada in the 1970s and 1980s have retarded the
rates of price increases of softwood lumber, leading to increased consumption. Between
1950 and 1988, these trends in demand and supply determinants led to a nearly 50% increase
in softwood lumber consumption. The volume of paper and board consumption nearly tripled.
Softwood plywood consumption increased more than 7 times.
In total, the consumption of industrial roundwood rose from about 10
billion cubic feet in 1950 to 17 billion cubic feet in 1988. Industrial roundwood does not
include fuelwood. The oil price shocks of the 1970s caused a resurgence in the use of wood
for fuel after decades of decline. The softening in the real price of petroleum-based
energy in the 1980s, however, has led to reduced consumption of fuelwood. While the net
effect was an increase in fuelwood consumption, much of this wood originates on land other
than timberland and thus its effect on the consumption of industrial roundwood is
Future consumption of timber products is assumed to be the end result of
interactions of determinants of demands and supplies, as it has been in the past. The
projections of increased population and economic activity on the demand side and
management of the timber resource on the supply side lead to a continuation in the growth
of consumption of most timber products. Consumption of lumber, structural panels, pulp,
and fuelwood are expected to grow through the coming decades as follows:
Lumber (billion board feet)
Structural panels (billion square feet 3/8-inch basis)
Paper and board (million tons)
Fuelwood (roundwood, billion board feet)
In the latter part of the projection period, consumption of fuelwood is
projected to decline somewhat because the cost of petroleum-based energy is assumed to
level off after rising through 2020. These projections have in them explicit assumptions
about technology. For example, softwood lumber recovery is assumed to increase 19% in the
South by the end of the projection period.
When all products are converted to roundwood equivalent and added
together, the results show that consumption rises from 20.5 billion cubic feet in 1986 to
28.6 billion cubic feet in 2040. For softwoods, the increase is from 14.3 billion cubic
feet in 1986 to 17.5 billion cubic feet in 2040; for hardwoods, the increase is from 6.2
billion cubic feet to 11.1 billion cubic feet. The faster rate of growth in consumption of
hardwoods largely reflects increased used of hardwood roundwood for pulpwood and
Much of the projected increase is in consumption of pulp products.
Consequently, pulpwood accounts for about 38% of roundwood consumption in 2040, compared
with 28% in 1986.
Part of the projected increases in consumption will be based on imports.
Between 1950 and 1987, the roundwood equivalent of the imports of timber products (mainly
softwood lumber, wood pulp, newsprint, and hardwood plywood and veneer) increased from 1.5
to 1.9 billion cubic feet. Much of the increase was based on development of the Canadian
softwood resource, especially interior British Columbia. Increases in softwood lumber
imports from Canada in the 1980s led to a trade dispute between the two countries that was
settled by a Memorandum of Understanding on softwood lumber trade, This trade was also at
issue earlier in this century. For the purposes of projections, however, it is assumed
that trade between the two countries will be based on the inherent competitiveness of the
forest products industries in the two countries, rather than trade constraints.
In the absence of a national assessment of the timber supply/demand
outlook in Canada, there has developed a difference of opinion about the potential for
increased output of forest products in that country. One view is that the industry has
exceeded the sustainable harvest level in some parts of the country and that from the
Nation as a whole, the industry is near the sustainable harvest level. An opposing view is
that Canada has a large acreage of low quality, currently economically inaccessible timber
that will come on to the market as timber prices rise. The exact volume of this timber is
unknown, but may be enough to increase the allowable cut by tens of millions of cubic
meters. Also, there is potential for extending timber supplies through application of
technology in processing.
Deforestation, global climate change, and other issues have come to be
associated with trade in tropical hardwood timber products. In addition, hardwood log
export restrictions in Southeast Asia have shifted the origin of most U.S. imports of
tropical hardwood veneer and plywood from South Korea and the Philippines to Indonesia.
Tropical hardwood products will continue to be available on world markets in the
foreseeable future, but the volumes, costs, and origins of these products are increasingly
uncertain as projections go beyond the turn of the century.
About the turn of the century, New Zealand and Chile have the potential
to be major sources of softwood fiber on world markets with Pacific Rim countries being
the likely destination of any increased exports. In addition, Brazil and other countries
have the potential to expand pulp shipments in world markets based on plantation forests.
Depending on currency exchange rates, other countries, such as Sweden, can be competitive
in the U.S. market for paper.
There is potential for expanded growth in world trade in timber
products. For the purposes of this study, however, it is assumed that the United States
will continue to rely on Canada for softwood product imports and Southeast Asia for
hardwood product imports. In view of the uncertainties about future growth in supplies
from these sources, imports are assumed to stay near current levels of about 4 billion
cubic feet, roundwood equivalent.
Exports of timber products, chiefly pulpwood-based products and softwood
logs and lumber, increased from 140 million cubic feet in 1950 to 2.7 billion cubic feet
in 1987. Since 1985, the U.S. dollar has been weak as compared with the Japanese yen and
other currencies. This, in combination with export promotion programs of U.S. industry and
the Foreign Agricultural Service has led to expanded exports of solid-wood products in the
last 1980s. It is uncertain as to whether this momentum can be maintained if the U.S.
dollar rises to relation to other currencies. In addition, the potential effects of New
Zealand, Chile, and Brazil on world markets is uncertain. It is assumed that total U.S.
exports measured in roundwood equivalent will increase from about 2 billion cubic feet
currently to 2.5 billion cubic feet in 2040, and some change in product mix is assumed.
For example, exports of softwood logs from Washington and Oregon are assumed to decline
while exports of softwood lumber are assumed to increase. This reflects an expected
decline in availability of high quality, old-growth timber and further success of trade
Current GATT negotiations, further integration of the European Economic
Community in 1992, on-going negotiations with the Japanese, and the Free Trade Agreement
with Canada could all have significant effects on US trade in timber products in the
coming decades and beyond. Therefore, the pattern of U.S. imports and exports in timber
products will be a major factor to be analyzed in the next update of this series of
Given the above assumptions, annual net imports will decline from 2.5 to
1.5 billion cubic feet by 2040. Thus, most of the domestic U.S. consumption will continue
to be based on the domestic resource.
CONSUMPTION FROM DOMESTIC FORESTS
After allowances for improvements in utilization, technology, and the
international trade outlook, projected consumption of timber from domestic forests
increases from 18 billion cubic feet in 1986 to 27.1 billion cubic feet in 2040. For
softwoods the increase is from 11.7 to 15.8 billion cubic feet, and for hardwoods the
increase is from 6.3 to 11.3 billion cubic feet.
The U.S. Timber Resource
The United States has a very large domestic timber resource. About 731
million acres - 32% of the country's area - is forest land. Nearly two-thirds of this, or
483 million acres, is classified as timberland: land capable of producing at least 20
cubic feet of industrial wood per acre per year and not reserved for uses that are not
compatible with timber production.
Farmers and other private ownerships contain 276 million acres, some 57%
of the timberland. Another 71 million acres, 15% of the total, is owned by forest
industries. The remaining area (136 million acres) is in public ownership. The largest
part of this, 85 million acres, is in national forests.
Softwoods predominate in the Nation's timber inventory. In 1987, there
was a total of 451 billion cubic feet of softwood growing stock, including 2,032 billion
board feet of sawtimber. The largest portion of the softwood inventory in 1987 was in
national forests, including some 41% of all softwood growing stock and 47% of the softwood
sawtimber. Most of the timber was in old-growth stands in the western United States. Some
30% of the softwood growing stock and 25% of the sawtimber was in farmer and other private
ownerships, mostly in the East. Another 16% of the softwood growing stock and 15% of the
softwood sawtimber volume was in forest industry ownership. Over half of this was in the
Hardwood growing stock inventory in 1977 totaled 305 billion cubic feet.
About 70% of these inventories were on farmer and other private ownerships and 11% on
forest industry ownerships. The bulk of the hardwood timber in these ownerships was in the
East and about equally divided between North and South.
Trends in Inventories, Net Annual Growth, and Harvests
By most measures, the domestic timber situation has been improving. For
example, between 1982 and 1987, softwood growing stock inventories increased 5% and
hardwoods 69%. Softwood sawtimber inventories declined 2.8% and hardwood inventories
increased 85%. The increase in inventories has been mainly on the young stands in the
North, South, and western Washington and Oregon on the farmer and other private
ownerships. Softwood growing stock inventories on national forests in the West declined
between 1952 and 1977 because of the harvest of old-growth stands with high inventories
per acre. Since 1977, large areas of timberland have been taken out of timber production
and this is reflected in the drop of 25% in national forest inventories between 1977 and
1987 in Washington and Oregon. Softwood inventories on forest industry ownerships in
Washington and California increased between 1977 and 1987, reflecting the growth of young
timber on harvested acres. Inventories continued to decline in Oregon. Timber inventories
in the Rocky Mountain Region, where harvests are at a relatively low level, have changed
little since 1952, with most of the volume in Idaho and Montana.
The increase in inventories reflects net annual timber growth/removal
balances. Since 1952, net annual growth of softwoods in the eastern sections of the United
States has been higher than removals, which are defined as harvest of roundwood products
plus logging residues and loss of timber inventory from changes in land use and clearing.
In 1986, net annual growth of western softwood growing stock exceeded removals by 670
million cubic feet, or 10%. Most of the excess of net annual growth over removals was on
the farmer and other private ownerships.
For the western United States, removals of softwood growing stock in
1986 exceeded net annual growth by 836 million cubic feet, or 17%. Most of the excess of
removals over growth was on the forest industry and national forest ownerships in the
Pacific Coast section. In the Rocky Mountain region, net annual growth was over two times
removals in 1986.
Net annual growth of eastern hardwoods in 1986 substantially exceeded
removals, particularly in the North. For the entire East, net annual growth of hardwood
growing stock was 8.8 billion cubic feet, some 78% above removals. The greatest part of
the surplus was in farmer and other private ownerships, although growth exceeded harvest
on all ownerships.
Outlook for Roundwood Consumption by Region
The current growth/removal balances show that the hardwood forests and
eastern softwood forests can now support additional timber harvests. These balances will,
of course, change as growth and removals change over time. Given the demand and supply
assumptions in this study, it is apparent that timber harvests will increase substantially
during the coming decades.
There are important differences in the outlook among the major softwood
timber producing regions. The projected softwood growing stock removals in the contiguous
states of the Pacific Coast region decline from 4.1 billion cubic feet in 1986 to 3.6
billion cubic feet in 2000 and then increase to 3.8 billion cubic feet by 2040. The major
cause of the decline in the Pacific Coast region is harvest of the remaining old-growth
inventory on forest industry lands. The old-growth inventory in this ownership class is
being liquidated and harvests from second-growth stands cannot offset the decline in
supplies from old-growth stands for several decades. The timber supply outlook on public
lands in the West is uncertain; many issues that are currently being debated could have a
downward influence on timber supplies from these lands.
The supply/demand outlook in the South is strongly influenced by
projected increases in the area of pine plantations in this region of the country. Until
these plantations begin to reach maturity, the growth/removal balance is near 1.0 and
there are periods when the softwood inventory is drawn down to support existing harvest.
Even with the plantations, removals exceed net annual growth in 2040. There are also
increases in consumption in the North and Rocky Mountains, but on a smaller scale.
Hardwood roundwood consumption is projected to increase significantly in
both the North and South. By 2040, consumption in the North is almost two-thirds higher
than in 1986. For the South, consumption in 2040 is 73% larger than in 1986. Hardwood
inventories are drawn down significantly in the South, reflecting in part, conversion of
hardwood types to pine plantations.
OUTLOOK FOR PRICES
There are two type of prices that characterize forestry markets. First,
there are roundwood prices in the various regional stumpage markets and second, there are
various product prices set largely in national markets. In addition to both stumpage and
product markets, there are differences in the short-term and long-term outlook for prices.
These differences vary between the two markets.
The projected increase in pine plantations in the South have a dramatic
effect on the outlook for softwood stumpage prices. In both the South and Pacific
Northwest, stumpage prices increase rapidly through 2020. When the pine plantations in the
South come into production, these prices level off and actually decline by 2040. This is
in contrast to past assessments, where prices were projected to increase continually in
the future. Even with the additional pine plantations, however, stumpage prices in the
South and Pacific Northwest in 2040 are more than double the price in 1986. Annual rates
of increase for the South for the period 1986-2020 are 2.5%, and for the period 1986-2040,
1.5%. For the Pacific Northwest, the rates of increase are 2.8% through 2020 and 1.7%
In general, the projections for hardwood (roundwood and sawtimber) show
a more favorable supply/demand outlook than is the case for softwoods. Advances in pulping
technology, however, are blurring the distinction between hardwood and softwood fibers for
some paper and paperboard products. Local situations are beginning to appear where
softwood and hardwood pulpwood are the same price. Hardwood sawtimber prices vary between
the highest quality products for export and other high-value end uses, and lesser quality
products that may have the pallet industry or firewood markets as outlets. The upper end
of the hardwood sawtimber market has become a search for individual trees and this will
likely continue. There are huge volumes of hardwood advancing in age in the North,
however, and these volumes may affect the supply situation after the next several decades.
Current concerns over tropical deforestation may lead to increased
demands for temperate hardwoods. If this occurs, there will be increased pressure on the
price of high-quality hardwoods, but it may also increase foreign interest in application
of technologies to make use of lesser quality sawtimber.
Because of market interactions, such as imports of pulp, newsprint, and
softwood lumber from Canada, the prices of end products are expected to increase at a
lesser rate than for roundwood. For example, between 1986 and 2040, softwood lumber and
plywood prices increase at annual rates of 0.6% and 0.3% respectively. The rate of
increase through the projection period is more uniform than for stumpage prices.
(1) The U.S. softwood sawtimber supply situation will be unprecedented through 2020.
Throughout its history, the United States has had available a reserve of undeveloped softwood sawtimber. The timber resource of first the Northeast, then the South, the Lake States, the West Coast, the interior of British Columbia, and then the South again all played important roles in the development of the Nation. For the next two decades, until the pine plantations in the South reach maturity, the United States will not have a reserve of softwood sawtimber available for harvest. There will be a period of two to three decades when the price of softwood sawtimber will increase significantly. This run-up in stumpage prices has many and far-reaching implications. It will:
* Offer opportunities for application of technologies to further develop the northern hardwood resource;
* Stimulate development of innovative ways to conserve on softwood sawtimber such as laminated beams and wood-saving engineering in construction designs;
* Stimulate substitutions of glass, steel, and other construction materials for wood;
* Stimulate production of timber products from currently economically inaccessible timber supplies in Canada and thereby lead to increased imports;
* Decrease the competitive advantage of U.S. timber products in world markets and thereby decrease U.S. exports;
* Provide further market incentives for tree planting on private lands; and
* Force reconsideration of many issues related to management of timber
on public lands, such as below-cost timber programs.
During the next two to three decades, much of the softwood roundwood
used in the manufacture of lumber will come from trees that are young by historic
standards - as young as 45 years in the Pacific Northwest and 25 years in the South.
Technical issues such as the strength properties of the juvenile wood may gain higher
visibility as lumber from young trees makes up a higher proportion of the total lumber
used in the United States.
In the short term, there are few options for alleviating pressure on
softwood sawtimber stumpage prices. Research on and application of improved utilization
and use of abundant hardwoods appear to be promising responses to the declining
availability of large-sized softwood sawtimber. The decade of the 1980s saw application of
many technologies that are saving of softwood - OSB/waferboard, for example, and laminated
beams. The use of manufactured components in housing can cut down on wood waste as
compared with on-site assembly. It is reasonable to expect further application of
softwood-saving technologies and allowances have been made for them in projections. Other
potential responses to the short-term outlook such as increasing imports or decreasing
exports would affect the situation, but do not appear viable in the current trade
environment. Recycling may significantly affect the short-term supply/demand outlook.
(2) The Nation's forest industries will continue to be concentrated in the East.
In the mid-1980s, some 45% of the U.S. employment in primary and
secondary wood processing was in the North and 35% in the South. In 2040, these two
Eastern regions will continue to have about 80% of the total industry employment. New
technologies being applied in primary processing, such as in the softwood lumber segment
of the industry, have as a side effect lasting elimination of employment in the industry
as capital is substituted for labor. In 2040, employment in the lumber and wood products
portion of the industry will only be 72% of the employment in 1985, despite a 44% increase
in lumber and a 60% increase in production of structural panels.
(3) There are opportunities to increase timber supplies.
Available information shows that the potential exists for intensifying
management and earning an economic return on some 66 million acres of timberland in the
other private ownership category. With treatment of these acres, net annual timber growth
could be increased by 3.5 billion cubic feet. Almost all of the increase in growth would
be softwood. About two-thirds of these opportunities involve some form of regeneration
activity. Approximately three-fourths of the opportunities are in the South and one-fifth
in the North.
There are also large acreages termed marginal crop and pastureland that
may be suitable for tree planting. For example, there are 22 million acres in the South
with this designation that would yield greater returns as pine plantations than in crop or
The Assessment projection assumes that continuation of trends will lead
to the implementation of some of these economic opportunities. For example, some 20% of
opportunities on other private timberland in the South are assumed to be treated by 2040.
As the Nation enters the decade of the 1990s, concerns for the world
environment have high visibility and are expressed in differing ways. For example, the
potential effects of tree planting in aiding the environment are so appealing that the
economics of tree planting are often secondary to the potential benefits to the global
environment such as urban shading and carbon sequestration. This view may well have a
major influence on the Nation's future timber supply/demand outlook, but the
supply-enhancing aspect of this view may be a byproduct of other goals of tree planting.
Tree-planting initiatives such as the Conservation Reserve Program and
America the Beautiful should increase the area of timberland in the short term. The
long-term influence of these initiatives is uncertain at this time and their potential
influence on long-term trends will be reviewed in the next update of the supply/demand
situation and in subsequent Assessments.
(4) There are opportunities to extend timber supplies through improved utilization.
The Nation's timber industries have come far in the utilization of the
timber resource in the past 50 years. For example, in the early 1950s, logging residue
amounted to 13% of growing stock removals and in the late 1980s, it was 9.6%. There have
been major advances in the manufacture of structural panels, and pulping technologies that
have had major influences on the current supply/demand situation. Opportunities for
further improvement of these technologies are considered in the study.
ASSUMPTIONS USED IN THE STUDY
All projections are the consequence of assumptions. In this study, these
include assumptions about the basic determinants of timber demands such as growth in
population, economic activity, and income; technological and institutional changes; energy
costs; capital availability; prices of stumpage and timber products; and public and
private investments in forest management, utilization, and research.
In making assumptions about these basic determinants, it is recognized
that the long-run course of events may be different from what is assumed. However,
expectations about the future of these determinants are often strongly influenced by past
trends. These trends reflect the interactions of massive economic, social, and political
forces which are not easily or quickly changed. Barring major catastrophes such as nuclear
war, such trends are likely to consider over a considerable time. Thus, it is reasonably
certain that the basic assumptions provide a sound basis for preparing an analysis for use
in developing and guiding public and private responses to the projected timber resource
situation. The following important assumptions were used to develop this Assessment.
The population of the United States has grown by about 118 million
people in the last five decades, reaching 249 million in 1989. Projections of the U.S.
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, indicate that population is likely to
continue to show substantial growth during the next 50 years. The median population
projection with a high immigration assumption shows population rising by another 84
million to 333 million in 2040. In the later decades of the projection period, much of the
growth in population is attributable to immigration.
Economic activity as measured by the gross national product in constant
1982 dollars, increased more than 4 times in the last 5 decades to $4 trillion.
Projections prepared by the Wharton Econometrics Associates show the gross national
product continuing to rise and reaching $15.6 trillion in 2040 - almost 4 times that of
Disposable personal income, i.e. the income available for spending by
the Nation's population, is projected to grow from about $2.9 trillion in 1989 to $9.6
trillion ($1982) in 2040. Associated per capita disposable income rises to $28,790 in
2040, some 2.4 times the 1989 average. This growth means that the Nation is faced not only
with the task of meeting the resource demands of an additional 84 million people, but the
demands of 333 million people with much greater purchasing power than today's population.
Assumptions about future growth of the timber inventory are key components of the analysis of timber supply. The basis for assumptions about growth on private lands is continuation of the growth indicated in the latest reinventory of permanent plots on these lands, as modified by management intensity assumptions. Growth for national forests and other public lands is the projected growth as reported by the agencies.
Management Intensity for Private Timberlands
Growth is determined, in part, by assumptions about management
intensity. Advances in research have enabled a growing sophistication in the way that
these assumptions are used in conjunction with models of forest growth. A key assumption
of the study is that by the turn of the century, all of forest industry lands in the South
and western Washington and Oregon will be managed intensively and that there will be a
growing acreage of softwood plantations on nonindustrial private lands in the South. These
pine plantations begin to affect the supply/demand outlook in significant ways about the
decade of 2020. After 2020, the pine plantations begin to reach merchantable size and
affect domestic prices, imports, and other indicators of the supply/demand situation.
These assumptions about future management intensity lead to higher
timber supplies as compared with similar assumptions in previous RPA Assessments. The
assumptions are so critical to the outlook that they will be reviewed in depth for an
update of the supply/demand situation planned for 1993.
Assumptions about future area of timberland also have an obvious effect
on the timber supply/demand outlook. Trends for the past 40 years indicate a decline in
timberland area for the Nation as a whole. This trend is expected to continue in the
future and by 2040, there is projected to be a net loss of 21 million acres of timberland.
There are some gains in timberland area as some land reverts from agriculture to
timberland in the North. Urbanization and shifts from timberland to agricultural areas are
expected to more than compensate for these gains, however.
Future Timber Harvest of National Forests
The National Forest Management Act of 1976 set in motion an
unprecedented planning effort on the Nation's national forests that is near completion for
the first round of planning. For the purposes of this study, it is assumed that harvests
on national forests will be the volume shown in plans in effect or in draft stage as of
1987. In total, this assumption means that harvest on national forests will increase from
2.3 billion cubic feet in 1986 to 2.7 billion cubic feet in 2040.
There are a number of issues whose resolution may have a downward
influence on national forest harvest levels. For example, the Endangered Species Act of
1973 contains provisions for protection of habitat for species listed as threatened or
endangered. The Forest Service has habitat management responsibilities for approximately
31% of the Nation's federally listed plant and animal species. The number of species
listed is growing, with implications for timber harvest in areas that contain the species'
habitat. In general, the effect has been to reduce timber harvest in those areas.
Nonetheless, the sum of forest plans is considered to be a reasonable estimate of future
harvest levels. As plans are revised, any changes in future expectations will be
considered in future Assessments.
Changes in Processing Technology
The decade of the 1980s has been one of rapid changes in the application
of technology in the U.S. timber industries and their utilization of timber resources. For
example, OSB/waferboard has been accepted in the marketplace and advances in processing
technology have increased the proportion of roundwood recovered as solid products. Also,
application of technology has enabled the pulp industry to increase the proportion of
hardwoods in the pulp mix. Explicit assumptions are made in this study about technology in
the manufacture of both solid and fiber-based wood products. In general, the effect of
technology is to extend timber supplies - satisfying the same demand with less wood and to
use the fiber available as in the use of hardwoods in pulp manufacture. The cumulative
effects of 50 years of technology development and application has significantly affected
the U.S. timber industries and similar effects are expected in the future.
POTENTIAL SOURCES OF STRUCTURAL CHANGE IN THE OUTLOOK
Sources of changes in the supply/demand situation are generally gradual
and can take years or decades to shift long-term trends. For example, the pine plantations
in the South in the Assessment projection are a source of structural change, but they take
decades to reach maturity. Two potential sources of fairly rapid change in the U.S. timber
industries are global change and recycling of paper and paperboard.
Global change has developed into a phrase that signifies all the
disruptions that may attend significant increases in global warming - not only changes in
the growth and distribution of trees, but the massive socioeconomic dislocations that may
be caused by global warming. The potential for global warming to occur and its aftermath
are currently the subject of debate. If it occurs, there is potential for shifting of the
supply/demand outlook with as yet undetermined implications. For the purposes of this
study, it is assumed that changes in the global climate will not affect the overall
The study assumes that recycling of paper in the United States will
increase from about 25% of consumption to 31% in 2040. An alternative future was analyzed
that assumed 39% by 2040. The high recycling future has dramatic effects on the
supply/demand outlook by lowering stumpage prices and the demand for wood in pulp
manufacture. At the time of the writing of this summary chapter, the U.S. pulp and paper
industry has announced as a goal 40% of paper recovery and reuse by 1995. There are
technical and market problems that must be overcome to achieve this goal. If achieved, it
would have major influences on forestry in the United States and Canada. The 40% goal is
established with the expectation of using existing technologies. New technologies through
research may make a 50% goal achievable.
In summary, this study projects rising demands for timber products, as have previous assessments. The study, however, has identified three potential sources of structural change in the supply situation that could shift the outlook.
These sources of structural change are not reflected in historic data
except for the establishment of pine plantations in the South. Global change and recycling
of paper and paperboard are developing issues. They should be monitored closely for their
potential effects on the outlook.
Haynes, Richard W., coordinator. 1990. An analysis of the timber
situation in the United States: 1989-2040. General Technical Report RM-199. Fort Collins,
CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range
Experiment Station. 268 p.