Forest Facts

photo of Houf Pine Forest
Missouri Forest Facts

The forests we enjoy today are very different from the forests of 100 years ago in Missouri. From 1880 to 1920, the pine forests of the Ozarks attracted lumber men from the eastern United States, and Missouri became one of the leading lumber-producing states in the nation. Huge sawmills produced building lumber, shingles, molding and railroad ties for a growing nation. All across Missouri and the United States, forests were generally logged and abandoned in the early part of this century. This practice continued until 1920 when most of the timber had been cut.

  • 1900 - At the turn of the last century, Missouri was a leading timber-producing state. The Society of American Foresters was founded when a group of seven foresters got together at the organization's first meeting in November. That meeting was held in the old Agriculture Department building in Washington, DC., and saw the founding of an organization dedicated to professional forest conservation throughout the United States.
  • 1909-1910 - The peak of Missouri's timber production. By 1910, nearly all of Missouri's pine had been cut. 
  • 1920 - End of the logging boom: there were no more trees left to cut in the Ozarks. Work began in earnest to help regenerate Missouri's forests.
  • 1929 - Founding of the Missouri Society of American Foresters.
  • 1933 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was formed to provide much-needed employment to young men and to aid in the conservation of the United States' natural resources. The program enrolled some 520,000 men in the United States at its peak, and approximately half of those were assigned to forestry projects. Nationwide, the CCC developed more than 800 state parks, planted 3 billion trees, built 3,100 lookout towers and fought thousands of acres of wildfires.
  • 1936 - Missouri voters approved a state constitutional amendment creating the Conservation Commission. This new agency included a Forestry Division; an innovative idea at the time.
  • 2000s - The annual growth of forests far exceeds the amount harvested, ensuring ample forests for future generations. Wood industries provide countless people with the materials necessary to build homes, furniture and other items necessary to our daily lives.

Forests have become Missouri's greatest renewable resource. If managed wisely, a healthy forest will keep producing quality trees for years to come, creating tremendous economic, environmental and social benefits.

  • 14 million acres - Approximately one-third of Missouri is covered by forest land, featuring some of the finest oak, walnut, pine and red cedar trees anywhere.  
    • 85 percent - Forest land owned by private landowners.  
    • 15 percent - Forest land that is government-owned.  
    • 2 percent - Forest land owned by the federal government, mostly in the Mark Twain National Forest.  
    • 3 percent - Forest land owned by the state of Missouri and local governments.  
  • 7th out of the 20 - Missouri's rank for northeastern states in the amount of forested acreage. Only New York, Michigan, Maine, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin have more forest land.  
  • $3 billion in annual revenue - Added to Missouri's economy for harvesting and processing trees into wood products, providing jobs for thousands of people.  
  • 1.9 billion tree seedlings - Planted in the U.S. each year, translating into six seedlings for every tree cut.  
  • 5 million trees - Planted in Missouri alone at the George O. White State Forest Nursery in Licking.  
  • 10s of thousands of pounds - Seeds collected or bought each summer and fall to grow 70 different species.
    • 5,000 bushels of walnuts
    • 15,000 pounds of white oak acorns
    • 8,000 pounds of hazelnuts
    • 600 pounds of plum seed  
  • 1.8 pounds of carbon dioxide - Removed by healthy forests.  
  • 1.3 pounds of oxygen - Released into the air for each pound of wood produced.  
  • 13 tons of dust and gases - Removed from the air every year by one acre of trees. Water in tree-lined streams is, on average, 10 degrees cooler than non-forested streams. A healthy stream depends on a healthy forest growing on its banks, and tree-lined river banks significantly lessen the impact of flooding.  
  • 10 to 50 percent - Reduction in winter heating bills by a few well placed trees around a house. Likewise, strategically placed shade trees can reduce air conditioning and cooling costs in summer time by the same amount. Tree-shaded streets, homes and parking lots are noticeably cooler in summer than their non-shaded counterparts.  
  • 25 to 30 years - Average life of a tree in a heavily-used city park.  
  • 100 to 150 years - Average life span of a tree in a remote rural forest.  
  • 100 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter - Equivalent size of a tree used each year by the average American for his or her wood and paper needs. All parts of the tree are used to make wood and paper products.  
  • 4,000 pounds - Weight of one cord of air-dried oak firewood.  
  • 250 copies - Of the typical Sunday New York Times produced by one cord of wood.  
  • 2,700 copies - Of the average 36-page daily paper produced by one cord of wood.
  • 13,000 board feet of lumber - Used by an average 2,000 square-foot, single-family home.  
  • 9,500 square feet panel products - Used by an average 2,000 square-foot, single-family home. This includes products ranging from structural beams and roof supports to the sheathing, trim and paneling.  
  • 2/3s domestic wood consumption - Used for home building and remodeling, the largest single use of lumber and wood products.  
  • 1,000 Certified Tree Farmers - Own almost a half-million acres of forest in Missouri.  
  • 6 Centennial Stewardship Farm Award recipients - Certified Tree Farmers recently named for contributing to Missouri's natural resources for 100 years or more.