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Future Forestland Area: Impacts from Population Growth and Other Factors that Affect Land Values

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Shifting patterns of land use in the United States are associated with many of today's environmental concerns. Land-use shifts occur because of relative changes in land rents, which are determined in part by financial returns in commodity markets. In recent decades, more than 3 million ac shifted annually in or out of US forest use. Gross amounts of land-use change are an order of magnitude larger than net changes. Between 1982 and 1997, a net amount of 3.6 million ac was added to the US nonfederal forest land base. Area of developed uses is projected to increase by about 70 million ac by 2030, with the largest percentage diverted from forests. All regions show substantial increases in developed area, with increases in population and personal income as key drivers. Forest area is projected to decline in two key timber supply regions, the South (−6.0 million ac) and the Pacific Northwest Westside (−1.9 million ac). Other regions having projected losses in forest area include the Northeast (−3.0 million ac), the Lake States (−1.2 million ac), and the Pacific Southwest (−0.6 million ac). Conditions in land markets reflect increased rents from residential and other uses of developed land, such that forests and forestland values will increasingly be influenced by development and its location.

Keywords: development; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; land markets; land-use projections; land-use shifts; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Forester and Team Leader Pacific Northwest Research Station USDA Forest Service 3200 SW Jefferson Way Corvallis OR 97331, Email: 2: Associate Professor Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics Oregon State University Corvallis OR 97331, Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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