South Carolina’s forests, 2011
Between 2007 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program conducted the tenth inventory of the forests of South Carolina. The inventory estimated that 13.1 million acres, or 68 percent of the State, was forested. The majority of South Carolina’s forest land was in private ownership. Many private individuals rely on family-owned forests and value their biologic as well as
their economic value. This survey revealed a growing forest with a volume of 24.1 billion cubic feet, the most ever reported. Forests in South Carolina are maturing; area of large-diameter stands in 2011 was the highest ever recorded by FIA. While loblolly pine continued to be the most dominant single species, hardwoods and softwoods contributed to the overall volume equally. Sweetgum was the leading hardwood species. Both growth and removals increased over the previous survey period. However, harvesting did not appear to be outpacing growth, indicating a thriving yet sustainable forest industry at the State level. Mortality declined statewide by 13.5 percent since the previous survey. Nonnative invasive plants were recorded on 58 percent of forested plots, with Japanese honeysuckle being the most often occurring species recorded. On a positive note, crews found almost no ozone-induced foliar injury. The Forest Service’s FIA is the only program that conducts forest assessments across all land in the United States. Increasing demands on the resource and anthropogenic-related impacts on forests have intensified the need to conduct ecosystem-based inventories such as these.