Re: Environmental Briefing Book, Competitive Enterprise
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:15:10 -0500

>David Assmann wrote:
>> Your environment briefing book for congressional candidates
>> contains inaccurate information about both the amount of timber in the
>> United States and the impact of recycling on timber. According to the U.S.
>> Forest Service,in a report entitled An Analysis of the Timber Situation in
>> the United States, "Trends for the past 40 years indicate a decline in
>> timberland area for the Nation as a whole. This trend is expected to
>> continue in the future, and by 2040, there is expected to be a net loss of
>> 21 million acres of timberland."
Jonathan Adler responded:

>You are confusing timberland with forested acreage. They are not the
>same thing. Timberland is defined by the forest service as land that is
>viable for timber extraction. Wilderness acreage, for example, is
>excluded from timberland calculations. For more on forest trends, I
>would refer you to the the work of Roger Sedjo at Resources for the
>Future (some of which is contained in the True State of the Planet
>portion of our page), or, as you seem to prefer government sources, the
>work of Douglas MacCleary at the Forest Service.

David Assmann response:

I am not confusing timberland with forested acreage. If available
timberland is decreasing and demand for paper is increasing, we are facing
a situation that ultimately is untenable. Either we start to encroach on
wilderness areas or we overcut timberland. As it is, only about one-third
of our National Forests are protected from extraction of timber. The
harvest of timber from our national forests is already projected to
increase from 2.3 billion cubic feet in 1986 to 2.7 billion cubic feet in

Secondly, our total forested acreage is decreasing. According to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we lost 3.4 percent
of all forest and wooded areas between 1970 and 1988.

>David Assmann wrote:
>> Furthermore, paper recycling can have a direct positive impact by
>> reducing the destruction of forests. 42% of the timber harvested nationwide
>> (7.6 billion cubic feet of timber) ends up as pulpwood to be used for paper
>> and paper products. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the demand for
>> wood for paper is growing by 25% during this decade. If 45% of our paper
>> came from recycled paper, we could save 2.5 billion cubic feet of timber
>> (and millions of trees) a year by 2040.
Jonathan Adler responded:

>Timber is a renewable resource. Most of the timber used for pulpwood is
>younger timber, not older, harder to replace forests. In fact, an
>increasing percentage of pulpwood is grown on tree farms. By reducing
>the demand for pulpwood, you are more likely to discourage replanting of
>forests and the development of treefarming technologies than you are to
>"save" trees. There is more on this subject in the CEI paper "Wasting
>Away" by James DeLong, a summary of which can be found on our web page
>as well.
>By the way, if recycling was always such a good idea, it wouldn't have
>to be subsidized or mandated.

David Assmann response:

Timber may be a renewable resource, but old growth forests are not
renewable during the lifespan of most civilizations. The U.S. Forest
Service estimates that demand for woodpulp will increase from 60 million
tons in 1986 to 75 million tons by the end of the decade, and that the
percentage of timber that comes from land owned by the forest industry will
decline from 28% to 25%. In addition, some of the timber for pulpwood
still comes from older trees, and from our national forests. By reducing
demand for pulpwood, we are taking pressure off our national forests, not
discouraging the replanting of monocultural tree farms.

And speaking of subsidies, U.S. taxpayers have paid more than $5 billion
for below cost timber sales from public lands. The annual value from
tourism, recreation and hunting in our national forests was $122 billion in
1989, while gross receipts from timber amounted to less than $2 billion.