By all measurements -- Indiana's forests are growing

The report card is in and the news is very good. Whether you measure acres of forestland, number of trees, or net growth, Indiana's forests are expanding.

Tom Schmidt, Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service North Central Research Station explained, "the area of timberland in Indiana has been steadily increasing since the 1960's and now covers 19 percent of Indiana. In fact, a half-million acres has been added since the 1967 inventory of Indiana's forest resources." Most of the increase occurred in the northern portion of the state through conversion of cropland and pasture to forestland. Slight decreases have occurred in the south central and southwestern parts of Indiana. Eighty-five percent (85%) of these timberlands are in private ownership.

Not only have the number of forested acres increased, but also the total number of trees increased to 2 billion. Based on Indiana's population in 1998, there are now 340 trees for each citizen. Since the last statewide inventory was performed in 1986, an additional 215 million trees have grown. Most regeneration in Indiana's hardwood timberlands occurs naturally, although some new trees are planted on open land being forested.

Contrary to common belief, the growth of Indiana's trees exceeds removal by 2.5 times. Oak-hickory and maple-beech forests predominate, but every hardwood species has increased in size and number.

Indiana, well-known for its high quality soils, has some of the most productive timberlands in the United States and is the second leading producer of hardwood lumber in the nation. They help to clean the state's air and water, and provide habitat and food for Indiana wildlife.

By most measurements, the future is bright for Indiana's forests to continue to provide aesthetic, recreational, economic, and ecological benefits for all of Indiana's citizens.


Contact: Tim Swedberg
North Central Research Station

Page: 1

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