On the forestland owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the timber is growing in age, in volume and value every year. We also conduct harvests annually – last fiscal year we conducted a dozen operations on 620 of our 56,000 acres, producing more than 2 million board feet of high value timber and 25,000 tons of low-grade wood. Half of the low grade was used to generate electricity at in-state biomass plants.
As part of our sustainable forest management, those harvests facilitated wildlife habitat improvements (adding diversity) and will over time upgrade the quality (and economic value) of the trees left to grow. As a conservation organization, we do this to model “wise use” of forest, which we have long believed helps keep forests as forests.
Statewide, the volume of standing timber five inches or larger has increased from about 10.8 billion cubic feet to about 11.2 billion cubic feet since 2005. Over the same period, according to the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis, carbon sequestered above ground by New Hampshire’s forests increased from 139 to over 146 million tons.
This good news contradicts rhetoric you may have heard claiming that timber harvesting has meant the degradation of our forests. The fact is that here in New Hampshire we can use wood, a renewable resource, to construct buildings, make furniture, make newsprint and, yes, heat and power our homes and businesses while growing trees and storing carbon.