A healthy wood products industry represents valuable economic assets to Maryland. Also, it presents forest landowners with greater opportunities to derive a variety of other benefits from their forest land. This aids in greater care and retention of private forest lands.
The wood products industry is the fifth largest industry in the State. It is the largest industry in western Maryland and the second largest industry on the lower Eastern Shore. Over 18,000 people are employed in the wood products industry Statewide.
Wood is removed from Maryland's forests for a variety of products, such as building lumber, shipping crates, veneer for shelving and furniture, chips for fuel and particle board, and pulp for paper. In 1988, 85 million board feet of pines and other softwoods, and more than 100 million board feet of hardwood species were removed from Maryland's forests. Further, in 1986, 62.5 million cubic feet, or 781,250 cords of firewood were harvested from rough, rotten or dead trees, trees less than 5" dbh, limbs, and tree tops. The following links illustrate a board foot, a cubic foot, and dbh or diameter at breast height.
Nearly all of the forest land in Maryland is capable of growing trees that are suitable for wood products. About 10% of the forest land is held in reserves where trees are not removed for wood products. These lands include state parks, designated wildlands, urban forests, and Christmas tree plantations. Cutting can occur across the remaining 90% of the land. However, the amount of wood removed was less than the amount of growth that accumulated each year since 1952.
Between 1976 and 1986, cutting removed 99.6 million cubic feet of wood annually across the State, representing 2.2% of the volume in all trees. Net growth of wood for this same period equaled 168.7 million cubic feet each year. This was an average net gain of 69 million cubic feet of wood per year. In 1988, 183 million board feet of wood were cut. In recent years, growth exceeded removals except on the lower Eastern Shore. In this region, more than twice as much volume of conifers was removed than grown. Removals of hardwoods exceeded growth by about 5%.
Average annual net growth, average annual removals, and average annual mortality of growing stock in thousand cubic feet and sawtimber in thousand board feet1