Forest Resources: Resilient and Serviceable
Roger A. Sedjo
The favorable condition of American forests today is remarkable considering the tremendous pressures that people historically have placed on the forests. From the relatively undisturbed condition of forests in precolonial days to the rapid conversion of forest to agricultural land during the mid-1800s to early 1900s and to the recovery of forest stocks since then, U.S. forests have demonstrated their serviceability and resiliency.
This chapter traces the history of U.S. forests and forestland--that is, land at least 10 percent stocked by forest trees of any size, including land that formerly had tree cover and will be naturally or artificially regenerated--and examines both how Euro--Americans used the forests and the factors influencing this use. The chapter focuses on the forest as a source of wood resources in the form of industrial wood (wood that is processed into products such as lumber, paper, and wood panels) and on forestland as a source of land that can be converted to nonforest uses, particularly agriculture. Only limited attention is given to the multiple uses of forest other than timber because