Forestry: The Issue In
and forestry practices are a global issue. Forests cover about 30 percent of
the world's total land area 1. Both people and animals need forests,
and they have been an integral part of our lives since the beginning of written
history. Humans benefit from forests in a number of ways; they provide people
with the economic means to survive by harvesting forest and timber products,
and they are also part of many peoples’ history, culture and religious beliefs.
Locally it is easy to see that forests provide people with jobs in the timber
products industry, fuel and shelter, in the form of wood, food like fruit, nuts
and berries, and opportunities for recreation. The large-scale impacts of
forests are not as easy to recognize.
30 percent of the global land surface is still forested, more than half the
original forest area has been lost. Forests continue to be lost at roughly 0.2
percent per year 2. The transformation began in 1500 when Europeans
first began to seek riches and resources abroad. After the Napoleonic Wars the trade networks
began to develop substantially and with them came widespread deforestation.
Deforestation was also taking place before 1900 in other non-European colonized
parts of the world, and since 1900 the forests of the world have only come
under more pressure as a natural resource 3.
global economy that emerged in the nineteenth century has continued to spread
through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, now becoming the phenomena
coined “globalization”. With this increased trade and transfer, among other
driving factors, global deforestation has accelerated. What has developed is an
imbalance of power between industrialized and developing nations, in which
there are clear differences in the treatment of forest resources.
in economically developing countries, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America are disappearing at unprecedented rates. It
is estimated that 60 million highly forest-dependent people live in the
rainforests of Latin
America, South-east Asia and Africa. An additional 350 million people are
directly dependent on forest resources for subsistence or income, and 1.2
billion people in developing countries use trees on farms to generate food and
cash. Loss of forest resources is believed directly to affect 90% of the 1.2
billion people who live in extreme poverty 2. The ability of the
world’s forests to regrow has not been able to keep
up with the extraction of wood and other products 3. The loss of
global forests affects the animals and people that inhabit the forests. People
who may not even realize their connections to the forest, and the benefits they
receive could feel the irreversible damages that deforestation can cause. Deforestation is therefore a threat to much
more than trees, because a forest must be looked at as a vital organ of the earth,
and is thus directly linked to a number of critical services, both for humans
and the environment. Some of the services forests provide include: ground water
recharge, watershed protection, absorption of carbon dioxide, biodiversity,
habitat protection, and economic opportunity.
Human and Environmental Services
effect of forests on ground water is important both to humans and the
environment. Forests increase the ground water recharge rate and play a
critical role in watersheds. Forested catchments, like forests that surround
lakes, act as natural filters and help maintain water quality so that areas
downstream can use the water for industrial, domestic or agricultural needs.
The watershed for a river may be thousands of miles upstream but an interruption
of the forest in a watershed lead to soil erosion, which in turn can clog
rivers with sediments, interrupting the natural ecosystem and even destroying
the fish and other species that downstream communities depend 4.
Oxygen is crucial to human life.
Plants produce oxygen, and as part of the same photosynthetic process, plants
also take in carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide levels have increased greatly over
the past century, due to the industrialization of much of the world. With more
and more cars and factories and higher levels of consumption, the amount of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is growing steadily5. This increase
in carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, is linked directly to global
warming and global climate change. Forests absorb carbon dioxide while they
grow, and forest biomass and accumulated soil organic matter contain 20 percent
of the earth's stored carbon 6. When trees are cut and burned the
stored carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. Deforestation in
the 1980s may have accounted for a quarter of all human-induced carbon
emissions, the second greatest emitter after fossil fuels 1.
global benefit of forests is that they provide habitat for many of the earth’s
plants and animals. The rainforest in particular is one of the richest areas of
biodiversity in the world. There are as many kinds of plants and animals in the
small country of Panama as are found in the entire continent of
Europe7. Many of these species have not even been identified yet,
and these unknown species may provide answers to long unanswered questions
about evolution, or they may be key members of the food chain, or they may even
provide us with key medical advances in the future. Currently approximately 45
percent of medical prescriptions written in the US contain at least one product of natural
origin 7. So with all the unknown plant species in the world it is
easy to imagine that there could be one that contains a chemical that could
vaccinate against HIV, or cure cancer. A century ago the lowland tropical
forest covered an area twice the size of Europe, and it has now
been reduced by more than half. Every week the remaining lowland tropical
forest is reduced by an area the size of Delaware 7. Habitat loss and fragmentation
are the principal causes of loss of biodiversity. Without the habitat of the
forest to sustain these plants we could lose them forever. 8,9.
Drivers of Deforestation
forest products sector has a substantial economic impact contributing 1 percent
of world gross domestic product and accounting for 3 percent of international
merchandise trade. According to United Nations report, Trade and Sustainable
Forest Management - Impacts and Interactions, the annual turnover of roundwood, sawnwood, panels, pulp
and paper exceeds US 200 billion dollars, and that is only taking into account
the wood products that forests can produce for the global market. The report
also indicates that the value of non-wood forest products and the environmental
services of forests are difficult to estimate in economic terms, but they are
critical to the livelihoods of an estimated 600 million people in the
developing world alone 2. The pace and scale of deforestation is
increasing especially rapidly in developing nations pushed by a number of
drivers, including rising population pressure, difficulties with valuation and
the free rider problem, a growing global market for forest products linked
directly to increased consumption by developed world, and the need for third
world nations to gain capital to develop.
are often new and urgent population growth issues in developing countries,
leading to the conversion of forests to farmland or fuelwood,
and poor forest management 1. The ranchers and farmers in the
developing world, just like people in the US who harvest the forests, do so because it allows
them to recognize the most economic benefit from the land. When one family harvests their woodlot and
sells the timber, they receive immediate economic compensation for the product
they have provided to the market. Whereas if the family leaves the woodlot
uncut, so that people can benefit from it recreationally, or through the
environmental services it provides may not see any direct monetary
compensation. They may be protecting the watershed, and many more people
benefit from their choice, but the family will not have any direct economic
benefits from their decision. Therefore it is the family that owns the land
that has to suffer the costs of leaving that forest standing while everyone is
able to enjoy the benefits. This problem is often referred to as the free-rider
problem, and in areas where there are fewer options for employment, it is more
common for people to decide to harvest their natural resources, because they
lack other options 10.
factor strongly influencing deforestation here in Maine and abroad is the growing global market for
forest products. The developed world, especially Europe and the United States, contributes to the exploitation of these
forests while actually increasing the area of their own forested land3.
The book World Deforestation in the Twentieth Century states that, “The
forests in the United States have steadily increased in extent and
density for the past half-century. In large measure this
fortunate circumstance results from the commanding ability of the American economy
to import much of its specialized wood product needs at a favorable price”3.
increase in US forest lands is the product of several
factors including the efficiency and long-term investment policies of some
companies in the American forest products industry, and the large scale
abandonment of farmland in the twentieth century America, and that has been a byproduct of the
mechanization and intensification of agriculture. We are now able to use less
land area for agriculture while losing no overall production. Some of the
increase in forested land is also from the conservation and preservation
efforts that have taken place in the US. This includes our national and state park
systems, state and federal forest lands, as well as conservation lands set
aside by NGO’s and individuals. Even in Canada, Australia and other parts of the developed world, what
forest depletion does occur is a direct result of intensifying demand upon wood
for pulp, plywood, construction wood, and a host of other uses 3.
in forest products, and the critical environmental services of forests are
vital for economic growth as well as for safeguarding sustainable livelihoods
in rural areas throughout the developing world 2. The general trend
in the international arena is to increase trade, and the debate is over whether
or not trade is good for consumers, forest product producers, the people who
rely on forests, and the services that forests provide environmentally. Some
argue that trade based on unsustainable practices in forest operations has been
seen as a major factor contributing to deforestation and forest degradation,
particularly in developing countries 11. Data from the UN supports
this claim, showing that in a number of tropical countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Guyana Shield, production for export
has accounted for a "significant share” of forest loss and degradation 2.
But maybe not all trade is bad for forests. The market that drives initiatives
like carbon trading programs is actually creating room for the marketing of
environmental services like some of those that forests supply. Agreements like
the Kyoto Protocol have the potential to exercise significant market force on
trade in forest products and on forest management. These environmental service
provisions could make managed forestry a much more profitable and economically
viable land-use option 2. This would also address issues of land use
valuation by making forested land more valuable perhaps than unsustainable
cropland and other alternatives.
harvesting of timber can be done in environmentally sustainable ways, but often
these are more costly and more time consuming in the short term.
Environmentally sound forest harvesting and transport operations are essential
components of sustainable forestry. This ensures that the natural productivity
of the forests and the benefits obtainable from them are maintained. The key to
sustainable forest harvesting lies in applying the best knowledge available to
critical components of the harvesting operation: harvest planning, construction
and maintenance of forest roads, felling and extraction, and post-harvest
most countries are involved in international initiatives related to sustainable
forest management 1. In 2000 already about 150 countries were
engaged in 9 international initiatives to develop and implement criteria and
indicators for sustainable forest management. The areas under management plans
are therefore also increasing. Formal, internationally approved forest
management plan cover at least 6 percent of the total forest area in developing
countries, and 89 percent of the forests in industrialized countries are
managed according to formal or informal management plans1.
Forest management certification programs operate in
a similar way but they also promote a product labeling, and have an important
role in accommodating environmental and social concerns in forestry. Forest certification involves an accredited auditor
who assesses whether the management practices of a landowner are in accordance
with specific standards of sustainable forestry. Depending on the system
chosen, either the land, the product itself or the land manager may be certified.
There is an increasing demand for certified forest products and the emerging
markets are supporting the
development of more international certification schemes and
national initiatives. They are also becoming more common in policy and policy
making13. Forest products certification is very much market reliant because the
programs and certifications are costly to obtain and without a market incentive
they would not be possible. This is one way in which the individual can have an
impact on sustainable forestry.
need to exercise their right to choose products that are ecologically more
sensitive. If more people buy and demand these products then more of them will
be produced. Recycled paper products are an example of an easily available
alternative. Also selecting products that are certified such as clearcut-free and eco-labeled lumber sends a clear message
to companies that there is a market for these products, and encourages them to
be environmentally responsible. Timber and paper products come from sustainable
renewable resource, but the only way to insure that companies are harvesting sustainably is to hold them responsible14.
Forestry: The Issue in Maine
The state of Maine covers 19.7
million acres and of that 17.8 million or 90% is forest area 15.
According to the US Forest Service 17 million acres or 97% of the forested land
is timberland, “land that is fertile and accessible enough to produce wood as a
crop, and is not withdrawn from timber harvesting by statute or regulation”15,16. Maine’s
northern forested area is a part of a larger region often referred to as the
“Northern Forestland” (see figure 1). Forests
are tremendously important to Maine’s
economy, and provide opportunities for recreation and tourism. Forests also
provide habitats and rich in biodiversity and help to protector fresh water
Ever since the Northern Forestland was settled,
cycles of exploitation have come and gone with waves of demand, innovations in
harvesting and manufacturing, and forest growth”18. These cycles
began soon after Europeans first arrived and continued for centuries. Huge white pines, Pinus strobus,
to furnish ships with masts as early as the 1500’s. Explorers like Captain
George Weymouth were awed by the awesome stands of timber along the Maine
coast and immediately recognized the potential the Maine
forest as a vast natural resource 19. Later in the 1600’s many
frontier people cut trees to build log homes and to heat them through harsh Maine
winters. In 1635 the first commercial sawmill opened in Maine, and in some New
England homes at the time wealth was actually measured in clapboards and barrel
staves. From the 1820’s through the Civil War, the Northern
Forest produced more timber than
any other place in the world18.
With the huge consumption of wood for fuel, and the
large demand for wool, which caused land to be cleared for sheep pasture,
southern and central New England were 80% deforested by 1840. The deforestation
caused serious erosion from 1830-1850, and the sheep pastures could not be
sustained because of overgrazing. This
caused a massive migration of farmers around 1840 to the Ohio
Valley and west 20.
Logging railroads and portable steam powered sawmills made it possible to move
farther from the rivers which had previously been necessary for milling and
transport of timber. This opened up what remained of the uncut timber in the
mountainous northern parts of Maine,
New Hampshire, Vermont
and New York. As the big trees in
the remaining virgin areas were felled, the timber market boom also collapsed,
and logging companies began to move south and west. With the large pines and
spruces gone, along with many of the farmers, the pastures were able to return
to forestland. In a short period secondary growth appeared and with it came new
processes to develop and manufacture the growth into products18.
In the 1860’s paper mills moved into Maine
and the state quickly became a leading producer of pulp and paper. The industry
grew in leaps and bounds with the price of wood pulp quadrupling in value
between 1890 to 1900 while the manufacturing costs fell by over a third 19
By 1910 paper companies owned enormous areas of the
northern forestland and papermaking quickly became the region’s most important
forest industry. The paper industry was not the only group becoming interested
in the northern forest at the turn of the century. The environmental damage,
including forest fires and erosion, that had taken place as a result of the
massive harvesting efforts directly contributed to the rise of the conservation
movement. Groups began to lobby at the state and federal level for public
forest reserves, scientific forestry, tree planting, and fire control as early
as 1880. These groups had some small victories including preserving three
million acres of land and introducing some landowners to sustainable management
methods. From the 1930’s –1960’s forestry remained the primary industry in the
northern forestland but the introduction of forest management and lower
investment mills allowed the forests to regrow18,19.
In the 1960’s and 70’s the growing demand for paper
caused many timber and paper companies to step up production. New technologies
and a surge of new investors helped to streamline production and increase
efficiency, which allowed for a higher volume of harvest and even more
manufacturing plants were built to create products. The new investment was
brought on not only by increasing demand for forest products, but also new
access roads were built, new technologies appeared with the introduction of the
modernized skidder and whole-tree harvester, and the value of mature forest
increased. Logging continued to increase through the 80’s and strained to keep
pace with new mill capabilities.
Beginning in the 1980’s there was a strong market
for second home development, especially in New York and New England, and
subsequently several companies began to sell and advertise tracts of land for
vacation homes. Many environmental groups and forestry-related organizations
were deeply concerned by this new trend, which consequently spurred an influx
of forestry regulations. Concern was especially prevalent following the
“Diamond sale” of 1988.
Within six months of going up for sale the land
holdings of the Diamond International Corporation, over 970,000 acres were sold
to two real estate prospector who divided the land into parcels for hotels,
campgrounds, private estates, and ski areas. Even more alarming was the fact
that the land sold for twice the price of the wood growing on it 21.
At the time of the Diamond sale, half of the northern forestland region was
owned by companies with similar profiles to Diamond18. This greatly alarmed conservationists and they worked with
government agencies to protect the land from development. As a result, over
fifteen million dollars was spent by the government to buy land and to initiate
conservation easements, which leave land in private hands but restrict
It was not only environmentalists who reacted
strongly to the new changes in forestland ownership that were taking place in
the forestlands of the North East in the 1980’s. In 1990 the governors of the
Northern Forestland (Figure 1) worked with the federal government and created a
comprehensive program to study the Northern
Forest, and propose protection, and
preservation of the resource for future use. The group that was created was
called the Northern Forest Lands Council (NFLC) and the study included “broad
outreach to the public in the region, support of studies on the area's
biological resources, conservation strategies, patterns of property taxation,
and significance of forest-based and recreational economies”21. In
1994 the council released its final report Finding Common Ground: Conserving
the Northern Forest. The report detailed 37 total recommendations for the Northern
Forest. In 2000 Robert Malmsheimer and a group of researchers from the State University of New York College of
Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY FSC) did an in-depth study and
review of the progress that had been made since the release of the
When the NFLC set out their 37 recommendations
(see Appendix 1)they were put in four general categories: Fostering stewardship
of private lands, protecting exceptional resources, strengthening the economies
of rural communities, and promoting more informed decisions. SUNY FSC’s findings showed that
the state of Maine has implemented more than 48 percent of the NFLC’s recommendations, which is one more than any other
state. Vermont substantially implemented 45 percent of the
NFLC recommendations, while New Hampshire and New York substantially implemented 41 percent of the
recommendations. Malsheimer also pointed out that the
states did a much better job of implementing, or partially implementing, the
recommendations than the federal government, which
or partially implemented, less than half of the NFLC’s
recommendations. Overall the SUNY FSC
assessment saw that “considerable change has occurred in the Northern Forest since the NFLC’s
recommendations”22. Some of the biggest successes were in green
certification, easements and other non-fee ownership mechanisms. Many
recommendations, however, have been only partially implemented or not
implemented at all. This is especially true of recommendations directed toward
Maine has had success as a state in implementing a number of the
recommendations, especially through state policy. Recommendation 2 for example,
was to fund state easement programs. In Maine The Land
for Maine’s Future Fund is the state’s primary
mechanism for the funding of land conservation. In 1999 50 million dollars was
approved for the financing of a land conservation program. In order to qualify
for a conservation easement, the primary use of the land must be something
other than timber harvesting.
recommendation that Maine has had partial success in implementing was Recommendation 5 (see
appendix 1), to strengthen current use tax programs. New Hampshire is the leader in the area of tax use
programs, but Maine is also implementing the recommendation by amending the Tree Growth
Law in 1995, 1997, and 1999. The amendments were minor changes that did not
implement any NFLC recommendations, but the law was actually already in force
before the recommendations were published22. The Tree Growth Tax law
states that its purpose is to “tax all forest lands according to their
productivity and thereby to encourage their operation on a sustained yield
basis”23. The hope is that the tax law will encourage wise
management of forests by not taxing extensively when they are not in
“Best Management Practices” are another example of
regulation on the forestry industry, and Maine
has its own set of guidelines which were written to prevent erosion from
logging practices and roads from clogging waterways. They set out a number of
practices, which in the unorganized townships of Maine,
are in fact law and enforced by the Land Use Regulation Commission. There are
specific guidelines for woods roads, skid trails, landings and erosion control
practices. The state also tries to encourage the use of licensed foresters who
create management plans for smaller woodlot owners and may manage lands for
those who own large amounts of timberland.
One of the most recent concerns over forestry in Maine
is over the changes in timberland ownership. Consern
is over not only the real estate market boom that swept the North East after
the Diamond Sale, but also over the ownership of timberland by private
investors, not for real estate development but as an investment in the forestry
industry. Since the 1995 assessment the non industrial private ownership class
in Maine has increased 1.9
million acres, while the forest industry ownership class decreased 1.6 million
acres 15. This follows a nationwide trend in the timber industry.
The amount of timberland held by industry stayed stable or rose gradually in
the years from 1952 to 1993, but has declined since then. In the nation as a
whole, the industry’s share of timberland has dropped 13.2 percent, the lowest
figure since 1962 24.
This ownership change may have implications for
sustainable forestry. Many of the big companies were leaders in developing the
Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and had long-term strategic reasons for being
involved in third party certification programs. New private owners are often
described as financial owners and it is unknown as of yet whether they will be
willing to wait out long investment cycles like the bigger companies, be
willing to provide field expertise needed to provide scientific basis for
sustainable forestry, and forego timber revenue to achieve conservation goals.
What we do know is that they will be subject to the same public pressures as
the larger industry owners, and hopefully will be equally responsive24.
has implemented several schemes to get small property owners to become involved
with sustainable management practices. The Maine WoodsWISE
program is one program designed to help smaller Maine
forest owners (between 10-1,000 acres) to make informed decisions based on
forest stewardship and long-term sustainability. It is a basically a landowner
education program, that offers incentives to help landowners get started
managing their land, with the help of a licensed forester. They also offer
financial incentives for forest management plans and projects to implement them25.
Another similar incentive is the Forest Management Plan Tax Credit which gives
a credit on state income tax of up to $200 towards the cost of a forest
management plan prepared by a licensed forester.
The forest-based manufacturing industry is still
going strong in Maine today, and
remains of significant economic importance to the state. As of 2001 the
forestry industry provided employment for 30,000 people,
and generated wages and salaries totaling one billion dollars, the largest
payroll in Maine’s manufacturing
sector. Forest based recreation and tourism provided
employment for over 7,000 people and generated payrolls of 51 million. In total
forest based manufacturing add over 6.5 billion dollars directly to Maine’s
The forest products sector is a consistent provider
of income and employment for thousands of rural residents and forest
landowners. While forests clearly provide a key source of economic revenue, Maine’s
forests are multi-use and must balance supporting a large forest products
industry, the largest manufacturing industry in the state, with being a source
of habitat, biodiversity, watershed protection, and providing scenic areas for
recreation. The forests in Maine
have made a huge comeback from their decline in the 1800’s, and Maine’s
government and people have a strong commitment to making our forests a resource
that will continue to last for generations. Currently there are several
interesting initiatives and issues in Maine
that relate to the health of our forests.
There is substantial work left at the federal and
state level in order to make sure that our forest resources remain sustainable.
Maine has worked hard to
implement many of the recommendations and is continuing to develop programs and
laws at a state level to combat these issues. Aside from the timberland owners,
the government, public and conservation groups also play major roles in the
forest industry in Maine. The
Maine Forest Service is a branch of the Department of Conservation and they
work with the national based United States Department of Agriculture Forest
Service as well as with many conservation groups, private industries and
landowners in the state to encourage forest land stewardship, and sustainable
harvesting. They help to initiate regulations like the liquidation harvesting
rule, and also develop incentives to help landowners harvest sustainably.
The public plays a role by voting in local and
state elections and therefore deciding forest policy in the state. Many members
of the public also are active in Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) that work
in the state to promote forest health. Examples of these are The Nature
Conservancy, The Manomet Maine Center for
Conservation Sciences, and the New England Forestry Foundation. It is through
these important actors that Maine
will be able to make sure that its forestry industry continues to prosper for
generations to come.
make it possible to better understand the environmental health of our forests
including their complex interactions in our ecosystems, and how they affect
plant and animal life on the planet and on a local scale. The status of a
forestry indicator may be able to provide an early warning about future
environmental issues, like watershed quality, which could in turn effect drinking water. Forestry indicators can quantify the
sustainability of harvesting and manufacturing of forest products, which can
help us to raise awareness, inform policy decisions, and help with resource
management. Forests are critical to the state and if we want to keep them
healthy and productive it is important that we are able to assess the trends of
this natural resource, its ecological condition, and its environmental
heavily reliant on our forestry sector to provide needed jobs and revenue, and
the indicators in this study attempt to look at the future of forestry in Maine and the
current status. The indicators that were chosen to give a representation of the
state of forests in Maine focus
primarily on the human interactions with the forests of Maine,
especially in terms of commercial harvesting. Starting with some background
information about the amount and stability of the forests in the state, the
first indicator looks at land use, and land use changes over the last decade.
Sustainability is also a large concern, both because it will insure that we are
able to harvest and benefit financially from our forests in the future and
because it will ensure ecological sustainability of the forest ecosystem in Maine. The
second indicator examines land ownership and one type of program that promotes
sustainable harvesting in the state. The forces behind timber harvesting are
mainly the consumers of forest products and the third and fourth indicators
explain the levels and impacts of consumption in the US and its
effects on the forestry industry in Maine. In
aggregate these indicators attempt to shed light on multiple aspects of
forestry in Maine, and to
highlight past and future needs and policy initiatives that could take place to
better insure the ecological and economic viability of our forests for future
Indicator 1: Land Use
With 90 percent of the state covered in forestland,
forest use and management issues are very important (see Figure 2).Timberland
is the forestland in the state that is harvestable,
and reserved land is not allocated for harvesting, and includes state and
national parks for example. The consistency
of the amount of land in the state that is forested is an important marker of
the importance of forested land to the state. The information represented in
Figure 2 is also available for previous years and indicates collectively there
has been little change in at least the past 10 years in forestland use in the
state. In fact this trend of stability also applies to the whole of the
Northern Forestland (Figure 1), which encompasses a band of boreal forest that
stretches from northern New York, across northern New Hampshire and Vermont and
then across most of Maine.
Timberland area (41.5 million
acres) in the Northern Forest has
remained relatively stable from 1970 to 2000, increasing by roughly 3 percent.
The 3 percent gains from reverting farmland in the rural parts of most states
are offset by losses to development in urbanizing regions. This trend is
reflected in Maine’s forest
area with an identical slight change in the distribution of forested land 16.
Having a stable forestland area in Maine is good
for the state because one of the biggest concerns for the forests in Maine is
development that began in the 1980’s when large landowners in the Northern
Forestland region sold large amounts of land to developers. As the population
of Maine, and
particularly southern Maine,
continues to grow, the state has taken measures to prevent unsustainable
forestry practices that can go hand in hand with development. One example of
these practices is clear cutting which is a commonly known practice that
eliminates all of the trees from a parcel of land. Clearcutting
is known to have negative effects on people and wildlife dependant on the
services that forests provide. The Maine Forestry Practices Act limits the
amount and areas, in which clearcutting is allowed.
known but equally unsustainable harvesting method is liquidation harvesting.
harvesting is defined by the legislature as “the purchase of timberland
followed by a harvest that removes most or all commercial value in standing
timber, without regard for long-term forest management principles, and the
subsequent sale or attempted resale of the harvested land within 5 years."
The legislature sees liquidation harvesting as a serious threat and in fact it
had been identified as such much earlier, in the 2001, Maine Forest Service
Department of Conservation report entitled: 2001 Biennial Report on the
State of the Forest and
Progress Report on Forest
Sustainability Standards. In that report it was estimated that liquidation
harvesting occurred on between 16,000 and 64,000 acres of Maine forest
Liquidation harvesting is connected to the real
estate market, and therefore the growing population in the state because it is
often a precursor to land sales and a symptom of cut and run business. A company
may buy a parcel of timberland, liquidate the timber, and then quickly turn
over the land for development. This is made possible by the combination of
demand for timber and for land. If land was not in such high demand for
development, an unforested parcel of land may be
worth very little.
To combat this issue Maine has
adopted a new rule which will take effect on January 2nd 2005. The new
rule states that liquidation harvesting produces significant adverse economic
and environmental effects and threatens the health, safety and general welfare
of the citizens of the State, and is “incompatible with responsible forest
stewardship and must be substantially eliminated” (12 MRSA, § 8866). The rule
applies new standards for pieces of forestland that are sold or offered for
sale within five years of the date of purchase of the parcel, also specifies
circumstances which are exempt from these rules. The rule constitutes an
amendment to the Forest Regeneration and Clearcutting
Standards. This is a positive step towards
encouraging sustainable harvesting by making unsustainable practices illegal.
Indicator 2: Third Party Certification
Though the new laws governing liquidation
harvesting and the previous Forest Practices Act are enforceable at a
government level, there are voluntary programs that also encourage sustainable
harvesting. The third party certification of forestry practice sustainability, and forestry products is one of these
methods. Third party certification means that an independent, accredited third
party auditor assesses whether the management practices of a landowner are in
accordance with specific standards of sustainable forestry. Depending on the
system chosen, either the land, the product itself, or the land manager may be
certified. Third Party certification a tangible step that
harvesters and landowners can take towards sustainable forestry. Also
over time, depending on whether more groups begin to participate, it may show
that demand for certified forest products has increased, decreased, or remained
the same. The success of forest certification lies in the hands of the consumer
ultimately, and the hope is that some consumers would choose a forest product
that has been certified and presumably labeled as such, over an uncertified
alternative. Without transparency of certification standards, education of the public, and willingness to buy the long-term possibilities
for forest certification will be extremely limited.
As of 2000 approximately, 42
percent of the state’s forest acres have been certified under a third partly
certification for sustainable forest management. The figure also details the
changes in land ownership that have taken place since 1957. The amount of land
in Maine currently under third
party certification is significant, and it is growing. Under one third party
certification scheme alone FSC, approximately 5.6 million acres of forestland
were certified in the U.S.
with over 5.1 million acres 91 percent certified in the Northeast and Midwest
as of February 1, 2000. Pennsylvania
has the largest certified acreage in the region (2.3 million acres), followed
by Maine (1.0 million acres), New
York (717,000 acres), Minnesota
(585,000 acres), Wisconsin
(252,000 acres) and Michigan
(155,000 acres). In March of 2003, the number of FSC certified acres had grown
by half a million acres26.
Four programs that are commonly used in Maine are FSC,
ISO, and Tree Farm. Each
of these third party certification schemes require owners of forested land to
pay for certification. With much of the productive forestland of Maine in private hands (Figure 3 and 4),
it is hard to know if third party certification will be a feasible means
insuring sustainable management. In Maine forest
ownership may play a role in third party certification. Large landowners
have embraced certification, while the high costs involved with certification
are what has been preventing moderate and small
landowners from participating. As of 2000 eighty percent of large landowners
have secured SFI or FSC certification and six forest products companies have
secured FSC “chain-of-custody” certification, which requires businesses to
establish systems that create a paper trail demonstrating certified materials
are kept separate from non-certified materials 29.
Not only is it unknown whether or not private owners can
afford certification, but no one knows what the future will hold for third
party certifications. Will markets sustain these new options? It is certain
though that the trend is growing, and with major retailers like Home Depot
stocking their shelves with certified timber products, consumers are being
given options, and the success of third party certifications in Figure 3 shows
that timber harvesters, land owners and mill operators are responding to the
3: Paper and Board
Consumption and Production
indicator turns the focus towards the drivers of timber harvest in the state of
Production and consumption of paper and board products has dramatically
increased in the US between
1965 and 1997. The rise in production has been mirrored by a slightly higher
overall consumption which is a driver of the increase in production.
The paper industry in Maine
is a major consumer of timber, so the pressures of supply and demand from the
market directly affect the economy and forests of our state. The upward trend
is steady in consumption and production until 1996-97 when it levels off. The
production and the production capacity of woodpulp
actually reached its peak in the 1990’s and this was mirrored in paper and
board production and consumption (Figure 5). According to some sources pulpwood
production peaked in 1995 and then dropped by 12 percent over the next 7 years 31,32. In 2001,
capacity utilization (a comparison of mill capacity and use) was approximately
86 percent for pulpwood, a level last experienced during the energy crisis of
the mid-1970s, and previously experienced only during the recessions of the
late 1950s and early 1960s and at the end of the Great Depression in 194032.
of these declines is the result of several combined factors including an
increase in the trade value of the US dollar between
1996-2001, which contributed to the decline in exports and increase in
imports domestically of paper and paperboard products. The strength of the
dollar also contributed to a recession in the overall manufacturing sector between 2000-2001 which slowed demand for paper and paperboard
products, contributing to the drop in production and consumption that began
after 199732. There has also been an increase in recycling
and the use of recycled in paper and paperboard consumption since the 1980’s
(Figure 6) which may also be a contributing factor to the decline in woodpulp production and capacity32.
The Price of Hardwood Pulpwood
Indicator 3 and 4 are closely linked and attempt to
look at the drivers of forestry in the state. In the last decade (1990-2000)
prices have continued to increase in Maine for
hardwood pulpwood. This is due to a number of factors including a tightening
supply and demand market, and spruce-fir (which is actually a combination of two
or more species, mostly red spruce and balsam fir) pulpwood stumpage price,
which increased faster than hardwood after the early 1980’s in Maine partly as
a result of the salvaging of dead trees from the spruce budworm outbreak that
also caused a diminished supply of spruce-fir. Prices are correlated with
As consumption and production of pulp and paper
products rose in the US, so did
the price that buyers were willing to pay for pulpwood. In the
early 1960’s Maine’s
hardwood pulpwood production was barely a third of softwood pulpwood
production. Today hardwood pulpwood production exceeds softwood by 40 percent.
Overall stumpage prices for hardwood pulpwood have seen a slow but steady
increase since the 1960’s (Figure 7). In 1997 pulpwood accounted for 5.3
million cords of the estimated total timber cut of 14 million cords in Maine, New
Hampshire, New York and Vermont. The
price for hardwood pulpwood has also increased dramatically since 1965, and is
certainly a driver of harvest in the state 33.
demand rises, suppliers can make more profit, which creates an incentive to
supply more and charge higher prices. This trend has sustained the hardwood
pulpwood industry in Maine very
well, but what about the sustainability of the hardwood forests? Increased
production means more trees are being cut and without proper forest management
if is possible to over harvest. It is often stated that the consumption of manufactured
goods by the developed world is exorbitant and growing. The rising consumption
of paper and board products definitely supports that theory but it is also
important to understand the effects on these increases on the environment. The New England Foresters Association model
has projected that even if harvesting levels remained constant from 2001 on, in
50 years the hardwood supply in Maine would no longer support harvesting. We
need to seek alternatives to hardwood paper, and also to ensure that what is
being harvested now is sustainable. This
is where the recommendations of the NFLC, and the
steps states have made towards them become very important.
The forest is not without
threats, as projected in the North East Foresters Association model 34,
and by many independent companies in the state, the future of the forestry
industry here is unstable34. Even if we manage the resource now, if
the volume of harvest continues to rise, our forestry practices could become
unsustainable16. The drivers of this very slow increase in harvest
volume we have seen in Maine are
the consumers and as we saw in the indicators consumption continues to rise31.
The lumber companies in the state feel a lot of pressure especially from the
international market to remain competitive. Maine
forest products are renown for quality, but the cost of
labor in the state is not competitive with international markets35.
Also our further environmental restrictions on timber harvest, though necessary
for sustainability, may make it harder for the Maine
forestry industry to compete in an increasingly globalized
world. As the National Forest Lands Council suggested, there are ways that we
can deal with this trend, including better flow of information. Consumers and
producers alike need to be informed of technologies and ideas like third party
certification in order for Maine’s
sustainable practices to have a niche in the market16,35.
The government in the state is
committed to making this important resource one that remains productive for
future generations, and they are continuing to adopt policies to make that
possible. The programs that are being initiated at a state level are
progressive, but at a federal level the government has done little to protect
our national forest resources. There have been many predictions for the
direction of the forestry industry in the state. It is unlikely that the amount
of forested land will change drastically in the next few decades. Though the
trends in the market are uncertain if we continue to have the same level of
harvesting of hardwoods we may begin to see a deficiency in 50 years. With
uneven age growth structure our rising harvest of hardwoods will eventually
prove to be unsustainable. Also Maine’s
forestry industry has suffered from devastating invasive and diseases in the
past, the Chestnut Blight almost wiping out the American Chestnut
from Maine completely, the Dutch
Elm Disease, the more recent Spruce Bud Worm, and not the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. All of these pests have been or are a significant
threat to Maine’s timber stocks
and we have no way to insure that there will not be more invasive species
introduced in the future
No one can predict with certainty
what will become of Maine’s
forests but it is clear that we need good management, because the forests of Maine
are an integral part of this state’s history, livelihood, and future. The
forests provide us with incalculable benefits from watershed protection to
manufacturing revenue, and sustainability is the key to making them continue to
produce for generations to come.
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accessed 10/11/04 (1997).
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accessed 11/11/04 (2003).
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accessed 10/21/04 (2004).
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accessed 11/11/04 (2000).
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The 37 recommendations of the Northern Forest Lands Council (1994) 29.
I. Fostering Stewardship of Private
1. Fund Forest Legacy
2. Fund state easement programs
3. Fund the Stewardship Incentive
4. Encourage green certification
5. Strengthen current use tax
6. Consider replacing the ad valorem taxation system
7. Change estate tax policies
8. Allow inflation adjustment on the
original cost of timber
9. Eliminate the 100 hours per year
10. Educate forest users and the
public about sound forest management
11. Assess forest practices and
12. Achieve principles of
II. Protecting Exceptional Resources
13. Fund public land management
14. Institute a national excise tax
on recreation equipment
15. Refine state land acquisition
16. Fund the Land and Water
17. Fund state land acquisition
18. Employ a variety of conservation
19. Exclude from income tax a
portion of the gain from conservation sales
20. Assess water quality trends
21. Conserve and enhance
III. Strengthening Economies of Rural Communities
22. Increase funding for Rural
Community Assistance programs
23. Encourage marketing cooperatives
24. Direct assistance to natural
25. Authorize and fund Community
Development Financial Institutions or a similar program
26. Promote public policy to provide
27. Improve workplace safety
28. Reform workers’ compensation
29. Review the effectiveness of
30. Simplify and stabilize the
31. Review land use planning
32. Establish consistent
IV. Promoting More Informed Decisions
33. Support cooperative efforts
among four state universities
34. Track and analyze land trends
35. Conduct and publish decennial
surveys in a timely fashion
36. Use the Northern Forest Resource Inventory
37. Promote natural resource
education for the public