Southern Forest Futures Project

Key (Stock Image- Photo by Paul Bolstad.

The Southern Forest Futures Project is a multi-year research effort to forecast changes in southern forests between 2010 and 2060 under various scenarios.

The report is based on concerns that the USDA Forest Service identified in public meetings held throughout the 13 Southern States.

Taking a look at the identified concerns and contributing to the Southern Forest Futures Project were more than 30 scientists, researchers, foresters, and other experts affiliated with the Forest Service, State forestry agencies, and universities.

10 Key Findings

Key (Stock Image-
  1. The interaction of population growth, climate change, timber markets, and invasive species will define the South’s future forests.
  2. Urbanization is forecasted to result in forest losses, increased carbon emissions, and stress to other forest resources.
  3. Southern forests could sustain higher timber production levels, but demand is the limiting factor and demand growth is uncertain.
  4. A strong market for biomass energy could bring wood demands that are large enough to trigger changes in forest conditions, management, and markets.
  5. A combination of factors has the potential to decrease water availability and degrade quality; forest conservation and management can help mitigate these effects.
  6. Invasive species create a great but uncertain potential for ecological changes and economic losses.
  7. An extended fire season combined with obstacles to prescribed burning would increase wildland fire-related hazards.
  8. Private landowners continue to control the future of forests in the South, but ownership patterns could change and modify the future.
  9. Threats to species of conservation concern are widespread but are especially concentrated in the Coastal Plan and the Appalachian-Cumberland subregions.
  10. Increasing populations would increase demand for forest based recreation while the availability of land to meet these needs is forecasted to decline.

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Southern Forest Futures Project

Key Findings

Forestry Sciences Laboratory

3041 Cornwallis Road
RTP, NC 27709
(919) 549-401