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Analysis of the Interaction Between Timber Markets and the Forest Resources of Maine

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The abundant timber resources of Maine are critical to the State's timber economy; thus, when the 1995 forest inventory indicated a 20% decline in softwood growing stock, there was great concern by industry and government. Furthermore, declining near-term softwood growing stock levels were forecast. To better understand what was occurring in Maine's forest, we examined changes in composition and evaluated the relative impacts of harvesting versus growth and mortality. Much of the decline in spruce-fir inventory can be attributed to the budworm infestation of the 1970s and 1980s, although continued high utilization contributed to the decline. The high rate of softwood utilization was facilitated by low softwood timber prices due to increased supply from salvage cutting and high prices for softwood dimension lumber. The high price of dimension lumber also allowed the adoption of sawmill technology in Canada and Maine that used small-diameter logs, formerly consumed by the pulp industry, for lumber production. The increased demand for spruce-fir roundwood occurred during a period when changes in paper demand and pulping technology increased the demand for hardwood pulpwood. Unlike spruce-fir and hemlock, hardwood growing-stock volumes have increased steadily due to low utilization, high growth, and low mortality. Ample inventories of hardwoods have allowed increased volumes of these species to be used in the manufacture of pulp and engineered wood products. A recent partial forest survey of Maine indicated that spruce-fir growing stock inventory has stabilized as a result of regeneration of these species that began after the last spruce budworm infestation.

Keywords: Forest sustainability; hardwood substitution; spruce-fir

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Northeastern Research Station USDA Forest Service 241 Mercer Springs Road Princeton WV 24740 2: Northeastern Research Station 271 Mast Road Durham NH 03824

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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