Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Wednesday, October 19

Southern Pine Timber Supply Steady, Mills at Full Capacity

The forest products industry in the U.S. South is moving ahead at a steady pace, despite hurricane-inspired stories of lumber price hikes and so-called lumber shortages. “Short-lived lumber price spikes have already come and gone since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” comments Wade Camp, director of economic services, Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA).

Even with an estimated 25 billion board feet of storm-damaged timber in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas, timber supply in the South remains stable. The area of damaged timber represents only about 2.5% of the overall forest resources available in the South. Currently, massive recovery operations are underway to reclaim as much downed timber as possible.

Approximately 60% of the fallen timber is softwoods, predominately Southern Pine. Although some mills sustained storm damage, downtime was minimal and most mills quickly resumed normal operations. In fact, Southern Pine manufacturers are on tap to produce more than 18.5 billion board feet in 2005, an all-time record. Future challenges may not point to timber damage as much as to transportation costs.

Often called “America’s Woodbasket,” the forests of the South are abundant and growing, offering more than 214 million acres of trees. By volume, the most plentiful softwood species in this region is Southern Pine. “Our industry is not running out of trees,” remarks SFPA’s Eric Gee, a registered forester. “Despite recent catastrophic events, our resources are resilient, and will regenerate quickly,” he adds.


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