Forests of the U.S.: Understanding Trends and Challenges

Lead Author: Dr. Steve Bratkovich

Publish date: 03.20.2012


Is the forest area of the U.S. shrinking or expanding? Does annual tree growth exceed harvest? Is the amount of wood in our forests increasing or decreasing? Are our forests sustainable? The answers to these and related questions contain “good news” as well as some “not so good news.” In part, the answers depend on your perspective (local vs. national), timeframe (decades or centuries vs. a few years) and definitions (e.g., What is a forest? What is sustainability?).


This report is a brief overview of the status of U.S. forests and an update to an earlier Dovetail report. This report is predominantly based on two recent publications from the U.S. Forest Service – The National Report on Sustainable Forests-2010 (published in 2011) and Forest Resources of the United States-2007 (published in 2009).