The State of Missouri’s Forests

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

in 1999, cover the 1997 calendar year.

Missouri’s wood-using mills processed 140.5 million cubic feet of wood in 1997. This was an increase of 4 percent from 1994. Most of the wood came from Missouri’s forests, with only 6 percent coming from other states. The eastern Ozarks region of the state (including Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Crawford, Dent, Iron, Madison, Oregon, Reynolds, Ripley, St. Francis, Shannon, Washington and Wayne counties) accounted for over half of the total.

Almost all of the harvest was cut into saw logs, with charcoal, bolts, pulpwood and veneer logs making up only 10 percent of the total. Over 5,000 Missourians are directly employed by primary wood producers, and another 8,000 or more loggers, drivers and so on, indirectly owe their jobs to these mills.

Is this level of harvest and utilization sustainable? Thanks to all the work forestry crews have done on inventory plots, we can give a confident answer. Our forests are growing at a rate of at least 267 million cubic feet per year, so the harvest of 140.5 million cubic feet is easily sustainable in terms of volume. However, foresters and analysts will also have to keep a sharp eye on which species, which tree sizes and which regions the growth and harvesting impact.

The survey of wood producers not only tracks how much wood they use and what they produce, but the "leftovers" from their production processes. Despite improvements in saw technology, mills still produce over 2.1 million tons of "residues" a year, an increase of 6 percent since 1994. There are "coarse" residues, such as the slabs and edgings left when all possible boards have been sawed out of a log, and there are "fine" residues - sawdust - and there is bark.

Missouri’s mills have made strong progress in utilizing these parts of a tree, which used to be thought of as waste. Over 40 percent of the residues are now used to produce charcoal. Other uses include livestock bedding, mulch and fuel. Only 13 percent of the residues go unused.

Urban Forests

Residents of Missouri’s towns and cities may appreciate the state’s forests, but the trees they live with every day are on their own streets, parks and playgrounds. The people who own and manage this resource (usually local governments, schools or organizations) need good information, too. Last year the Conservation Department helped Missouri become the first state to repeat American Forests’ survey of urban trees.


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