Since the last survey published in 2002, there has been an estimated net loss of forest land of nearly 128,000 acres. Forests now cover 15.7 million acres of Virginia’s 25.4 million acres, according to the survey. With an average plot re-measurement period of 5.2 years, the net loss was at an annual rate of 25,000 acres per year, up from 20,000 acres per year in the 7th survey.
Despite the loss of forestland, positive net growth on the remaining acres has increased the total biomass by 50 million dry tons and total growing stock wood volume by 18 million cubic feet. Therefore the amount of carbon stored in Virginia’s forests has increased by nearly 6%. Despite the loss of trees to gypsy moth defoliation, hemlock wooly adelgid, southern pine beetle and hurricane Isabel in 2003, mortality rates were lower during the 8th survey period than the previous survey period.
Regional differences in forest land loss, growth and mortality exists across Virginia and these will be addressed in future posts. If you would like to explore the 8th survey data further you can visit the USFS Forest Inventory data website for more details.