Forecasts of forest conditions
Key Findings Among the five forest management types, only planted pine is expected to increase in area. In 2010 planted pine comprised 19 percent of southern forests. By 2060, planted pine is forecasted to comprise somewhere between 24 and 36 percent of forest area. Although predicted rates of change vary, all forecasts reveal that land use changes and conversion to pine plantations will result in a continuing downward trend in naturally regenerated pine types. Changes in forest types are influenced by urbanization and timber markets: hardwood types are most strongly influenced by urbanization; softwood types are most sensitive to future timber market conditions. Reversing a 50-year trend of accumulating about 2.5 billion cubic feet per year, forest biomass is forecasted to increase slightly over the next 10 to 20 years and then decline gradually. After accounting for harvests, forest growth, land use, and climate change, the total carbon pool represented by the South s forests is forecasted to increase slightly from 2010 to 2020/2030 and then decline. Urbanization patterns are the dominant determinates of the size of the future forest carbon pool, although stronger forest product markets can ameliorate carbon losses. Because of increases in timber supply from 1990 to 2010, removals of forest biomass (growing stock) are forecasted to increase for all Cornerstones, including those that project decreasing prices. This reflects an outward shift in timber supply associated with forest inventories between 1990 and 2010. Removals of softwood pulpwood are responsive to futures for forest planting and product prices. Under a high price future, softwood pulpwood output would increase by 56 percent, roughly equal to the expansion observed between 1950 and 2000. Although the overall loss of upland hardwood acreage is forecasted to be in the range of 8 to 14 percent, the oakhickory forest type remains essentially constant while the areas of other forest types decline at higher rates. The yellow-poplar forest type is forecasted to decline the most, with the highest losses forecasted for the Piedmont. The age and species structure of softwood forest types are most strongly influenced by forest harvesting and management tied to timber markets. This is not the case for hardwood forests. The future structure of hardwood forests is most strongly affected by urbanization-driven land use changes (increased population growth and income). Reductions of naturally regenerated pine forests are not equally distributed among age classes. Mid-age and earlyage forests decline, but old-age forests remain relatively constant. The distribution of upland and lowland hardwoods shifts, with less of these forest management types classified as early age and more classified as older age.
Wear, David N.
Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
In: Wear, David N.; Greis, John G., eds. 2013. The Southern Forest Futures Project: technical report. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-GTR-178. Asheville, NC: USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 73-101.
Huggett, Robert; Wear, David N.; Li, Ruhong; Coulston, John; Liu, Shan 2013. Forecasts of forest conditions. In: Wear, David N.; Greis, John G., eds. 2013. The Southern Forest Futures Project: technical report. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-GTR-178. Asheville, NC: USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 73-101.