North Carolina’s Forest Action Plan and accompanying priority maps constitute a coordinated plan for moving North Carolina forests into the future. Driven by the need to efficiently target efforts to address state and national priorities, this document constitutes a broad vision for protecting and enhancing North Carolina forest values and benefits. While the mandate for this document and critical assessment originated in the 2008 Farm Bill under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, its origins are deeply seated in a public that is demanding increased impact, accountability and innovation from its agencies. With that challenge as our goal, a broad group of NCDFR staff, forestry community partners and sister agency personnel cooperated to make this publication a reality.
Enhancing the Benefits of North Carolina's Forests. North Carolina's forest products industry consists of more than 2,500 establishments with about 80,000 workers. The industry has a payroll exceeding $3 billion, contributes more than $6 billion to the state's gross product, and provides more than $28 billion in economic benefit. The industry typically ranks as one of the top two in the North Carolina manufacturing economy. Even as the number of manufacturing sector jobs increased and wage growth improved in North Carolina between 2000 and 2008, forest industry-related jobs and wage growth declined.
Threats to Forest Health. The population increases in North Carolina's wildland-urban interface areas create significant challenges for firefighters and residents. Firefighting capacity to rapidly and effectively control wildfires has decreased over the past decade across North Carolina. Fire exclusion has contributed to the decline or loss of some fire-dependent ecosystems and species, and creates fuel conditions that produce destructive wildfires.
Conserving Working Forests. In 2007, North Carolina had 18 million acres of timberland—a gain of 362,000 acres since 2002. The gain reverses a declining timberland trend. Ownership of North Carolina’s timberland has noticeably shifted. Individual private ownership decreased 353,000 acres between 2002 and 2007, while private corporate ownership increased by 249,000 acres. Overall, the nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) class of ownership increased 250,000 acres and accounted for 78 percent of timberland ownership as of 2007. Forest industry ownership decreased 110,000 acres, accounting for 8 percent of timberland ownership. Public ownership of timberland increased 222,000 acres, representing 14 percent of timberland ownership. The U.S. Forest Service manages 46 percent of the publicly-owned timberland in North Carolina.