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Forest Resources of the United States, 2012: a Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service Update of the 2010 RPA Assessment

USDA Forest Service

This summary is taken from text in the published assessment document referenced below.

Purpose of the Update to the 2010 RPA Assessment

Forests are invaluable to our Nation’s well-being economically and ecologically. Forests provide innumerable benefits in the form of tangible products like sawtimber and pulpwood; nonwood forest products like mushrooms and berries; and intangible services such as aesthetics, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, recreation, and water quality improvement. Tracking this precious resource, therefore, is vital to our national security and the health of our Nation.

In recognition of the essential role forests play in the United States, Congress delivered a mandate for the assessment of the Nation’s renewable resources through the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. The mandate calls for a comprehensive assessment of our Nation’s forest resources every 10 years, with updates at 5-year intervals. Forest resource statistics from the 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment were updated to provide current information on the Nation’s forests as a baseline for the 2015 national assessment. Resource tables present estimates of forest area, volume, mortality, growth, removals, and timber products output in various ways, such as by ownership, region, or State. Current resource data and trends are analyzed and placed within the context of changes since 1953. Additional analyses look at the resource from an ecological, health, and productivity perspective. An interactive RPA Data Wiz DVD is also included to provide user access to the resource data.

Key Themes from the 2010 RPA Assessment

The 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment summarizes findings about the status, trends, and projected future of forests, rangelands, wildlife and fish, biodiversity, water, outdoor recreation, wilderness, and urban forests, as well as the effects of climate change upon these resources. The outlook for U.S. resources is largely influenced by a set of scenarios that have varying assumptions about global population and economic growth, global wood energy consumption, U.S. population and economic growth, land use change, and global climate change from 2010 to 2060. Four key themes from the findings are (1) land development will continue to threaten the integrity of natural ecosystems, (2) climate change will alter natural ecosystems and affect their ability to provide goods and services, (3) competition for goods and services from natural ecosystems will increase, and (4) geographic variation in resource responses to drivers of change will require regional and local strategies to address resource management issues. The results from this report will be useful to resource managers and policymakers as they develop strategies to sustain natural resources.

Preferred citation

Oswalt, S. N., W. B. Smith, P. D. Miles, and S. A. Pugh. 2014. Forest Resources of the United States, 2012: a technical document supporting the Forest Service 2015 update of the RPA Assessment. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-91. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington Office, Washington, DC.