Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - 9

Chapter 1

Our Natural Resources

9

In 1607, at least half of our land area was forested. This amounted to over a billion acres. Almost 70 percent of that area is still in forest. Of the 738 million acres
of forest in the United States today, about one-third is noncommercial forest.
This means it is generally not usable for forest production. The other two-thirds
is usable for commercial forestry.
Of the 30 percent of our original forest that is now gone, almost all would
have been considered commercially usable. As in nonfarm uses of farmland,
this non-forest use of forestland is not necessarily bad. Our society could not
function without the highways we have built over some good farmland. By the
same token, people cannot be fed without clearing the forests for farming and
construction.
Since colonial times, U.S. forests have produced about 2,700 billion board
feet of timber. Each decade, we take more wood from our forests than the decade
before, yet each year the trees in our forests grow more wood than we harvest.
Our 760 million acres produce more wood each year than what our over 1 billion
acres did in 1607. Forest management works!

Mature Forests
When you think of the term forest, what do you think of? Is it a pine plantation
with rows of trees all of the same height, or do you think of a dark, cool place
with tall, beautiful trees? Most people would think of the latter.
When a forest tree begins to grow, it starts slowly. It may gain a foot a year
in height, but even after a few years the tree does not have much wood. As it gets
older, its crown increases in size and it produces wood much faster. As it becomes
even older, its growth slows, and it gains less in height each year. Like people, a
tree grows slowly, then faster, and then matures and does not grow very quickly
after that. Eventually, the tree dies (Figure 1-5).
When a forest is left alone for centuries, it becomes a mature forest. This
means that its canopy is dominated by mature, slow-growing trees. (Canopy
refers to the upper portions, or crowns, of the trees, including the limbs and
branches with leaves.) A mature forest is beautiful, dark, and cool, but it produces
very little wood and provides a home for relatively few birds and animals. When
we need to produce wood, we need a growing forest-a young forest. When we
want to encourage wildlife populations we need a growing forest-a young forest.
When this country was settled, the colonists found mostly mature forests. Today,
we have fewer mature forests in our commercially usable forestland.
Forest management techniques and improved varieties of trees have helped
greatly. In general, do not feel sad to see trees being cut. After all, they are not a
natural resource until they become useful. More importantly, by good management, trees are renewable. This means we can cut a million trees and still have
more than before.

Other reSOUrCeS
energy Sources
Most of our energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun, the earth's
most vital natural resource. Capturing the energy that originates in the sun has
always been our greatest challenge.

Source: US National Park Service

FOreSt reSOUrCeS

FIguRE 1-5 a mature forest,

such as this redwood forest
in california, is beautiful and
peaceful, but it produces
no usable wood and little
wildlife. Still, it is useful
in other ways. What is
usefulness?



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp

Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover1
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover2
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - i
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - v
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - vii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - viii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ix
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - x
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xi
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