Revised December 2023


Natural and managed forests are one of the most important components of the Earth’s living and climatic systems. Around the world, forestry and the forest-products industry are of major economic importance to rural livelihoods.

Forestry is how trees can be produced as a renewable resource for wood or biomass for direct timber sales, production of trees for ornamental plantings or woody material for composite products or for use as a combustion energy source. Integrated into forest management plans may be other resource-management and asset-generation or asset-recovery options. These may involve revenue generation from hunting lease sales, government-sponsored conservation programs, tourism from winter sports access, syrup or mushroom production for food products, educational activities, and other strategies.


The United States contains roughly 800 million acres of forested land, and almost 480 million acres, or 60 percent, of that land is privately owned.

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, over $431 million of forest products were sold from 59,000 farms. The top six producing states that year were Georgia, $83.4 million; Oregon, $59.3 million; Mississippi, $58.3 million; South Carolina, $54.1 million; Alabama, $52.2 million; and North Carolina, $48.4 million.

Forest resources, tree plantations and similar ecosystems usually are managed using scientific techniques. To re-forest a natural area or establish a plantation, selection of species and subspecies varieties, either in “pure” single species stands or mixed-species systems, means selecting genetic stock with the proper microclimatic adaptation and disease resistance. Then the forester must employ skill in the proper handling of seedlings, stand establishment and protection, and management practices that include pruning and thinning, controlled burns and managed extraction of the desired biomass of timber. Several trade organizations, state and federal government agencies, university extension researchers and private consultants are available to assist with program planning and problem solving.

Management and preservation are important issues regarding America’s forest systems. Forestry is an arena of applied scientific analysis, field-craft technique, satellite telemetry and related environmental monitoring.


Nursery Trees

Christmas Trees

Non-traditional Forest Products


The United States exported $10.1 billion of forest products in 2022. The major categories of forest products exported that year included wood pellets ($1.5 billion), red oak lumber ($434 million), softwood logs ($518 million) and white oak lumber ($470 million). Canada was the largest buyer of U.S. forest products, purchasing $2.59 billion. China, Japan, the European Union and Mexico are also major buyers of U.S. forest products.


In 2022 the United States imported forest products valued at $33.5 billion. More than $7.0 billion of softwood lumber was imported, $3.1 billion of OSB and nearly $1.2 billion of spruce lumber. Canada was the leading supplier, providing forestry products valued at $16.5 billion. China and Brazil were the second and third largest suppliers of forestry products for the United States.


  • Forest Landowners Association, Inc. - The members of this organization are independent forest landowners who operate more than 37 million acres of timberland in 47 states. The organization offers all types of property insurance at group rates.
  • National Association of State Foresters - Each state employs a state forester who oversees and manages the forests on state and privately owned lands in their state.
  • National Woodland Owners Association - This nationwide organization is made up of non-industrial private woodland owners. They provide group rates for  woodland and for hunting lease liability insurance. They also provide a limited directory of national private hunting lands.


Businesses/Case Studies

  • Oregon Woodland Cooperative - Since 1981, this cooperative of woodland owners has been working together to improve, manage and market products from the forest.

Organizational Links

  • The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) - AF&PA is the national trade association of the forest, pulp, paper, paperboard and wood products industry. The organization represents member companies engaged in growing, harvesting and processing wood and wood fiber, manufacturing pulp, paper and paperboard products from both virgin and recycled fiber, and producing engineered and traditional wood products. Association members include manufacturers of over 80 percent of the paper, wood and forest products produced in the United States.
  • Forest Products Society (FPS) - Supporting information exchange on the use of wood and wood-fiber resources, FPS provides its members and others in the forest industry a variety of services to further member research and goals. FPS links an international network of scholars and industry professionals. The close linkage with research enables the industry to gain the competitive advantage essential in this current intensively globalized economy.
  • Forest Service, USDA - Congress established the Forest Service in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the nation's benefit. Over the years, the public has expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment.
  • The Intermountain Forest Association (IFA) - The IFA is an organization of wood product manufacturers, forestland owners and related businesses in the northern Rockies. It develops and implements solution-oriented policies intended to provide a positive climate for forest management as well as a stable and sustainable supply of timber from public and private forestlands; works to ensure that regulations affecting member companies remain reasonable; serves as a source of information to media, the public and other interested parties on a wide variety of forestry and natural resource issues; and provides a conduit for member companies to develop cooperative relationships.
  • The International Forestry Student’s Association - A worldwide IFSA promotes co-operation among forestry students and establishes links with other international organizations in areas such as forestry, environmental protection, higher education, economy and social development.
  • The Society of American Foresters (SAF) - This is the national scientific and educational organization representing for forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900, the SAF mission is to advance the science and practice of forestry, enhance the competency of its members and use the knowledge of the profession to help ensure forest ecosystems and resources to benefit society.




Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Service, USDA.

Global Agricultural Trade System, Foreign Ag Service, USDA.

Sales of Forest Products, Income from Farm-Related Sources: 2017 Census of Agriculture, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2017.