to maintain the health and diversity of our forests in the absence of wildfire. Examples include carefully planned and executed prescribed fire, timber harvesting and non-commercial thinning. These practices require active and well-thought-out management that can cost time and money. On the other hand, not managing your forest can have significant costs as well.
Growth, Harvest and Consumption
Missouri’s forest products industry offers significant economic, ecologic and social benefits. Sustaining these benefits requires maintaining a careful balance of forest growth, natural mortality, harvesting and consumption. It’s also important to ensure that forests are harvested in a conservation-friendly manner.
Fortunately, Missouri’s forests are growing significantly more volume than is being harvested. From 2004 to 2008, Missouri’s forests grew three times more than was harvested.
Missourians currently consume about twice the volume of forest products (approximately 411 million cubic feet of wood per year) as we harvest each year. With increasing interest in using woody biofuels for the generation of heat and electricity, Missouri’s consumption numbers could soon skyrocket. In the face of this growth, it will be important to keep harvest rates at sustainable levels.
The manner in which forest products are harvested is also an important consideration. Timber harvests can be conducted in ways that actually improve the health of the forest and promote future growth.
Harvesting on public lands involves rigorous safeguards to ensure that the resulting forest will meet these standards, but there are few safeguards to ensure similar results on private lands.
Missouri relies strictly on the goodwill of landowners and loggers to make conservationfriendly decisions. Sometimes this approach works well and sometimes it does not. The Conservation Department offers help to private landowners who want to make conservationfriendly decisions with their forest through technical assistance to landowners, information on the best ways to manage forests and through logger training.
Invasive Plants, Insects, Diseases and Weather
Numerous exotic invasive plants are becoming a nuisance. They crowd out native plants, impede tree regeneration, reduce forest management options, degrade forest health and wildlife habitat and minimize recreational opportunities. Of Missouri’s 800-plus non-native plant species, 37 have become serious problems.
Some of the worst culprits include bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Japanese honeysuckle, autumn olive, wintercreeper and multiflora rose.
Missouri trees and forests also face a large number of insect and disease pests. Some of our most prominent threats are exotic species that have not yet developed enough natural predators to keep their numbers in check. Examples include the emerald ash borer,