Projections of Forestland and Developed Land Areas in Western Washington
Between 1990 and 2000, nonfederal timberland areas in western Washington declined by 5%, in contrast to a 3% reduction for the 1980–90 period. Most of this reduction is attributed to the conversion of timberland to other land uses, especially urban and other developed uses. In areas such as the Puget Sound region, population densities have more than doubled over the last 40 years. Further expansion in urban and developed areas is expected, with timberland a major source for development. We project an 8% reduction over 30 years in forestland area in western Washington. At the same time, urban and other developed areas are projected to roughly double, driven by increases in population and personal income levels. Increased demand for land for residential and other developed uses puts upward pressure on land values, increasing opportunity cost of retaining land in forests and raising the question of what will become of some forests and associated forest resources, such as water and wildlife, if forest owners find it too costly to manage the forest.
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