Northeastern Forests

From towering old-growth spruce in northern  Maine to aspen saplings on the banks of the Mississippi River, America’s northeast  is home to an abundance of trees and forests. About 4 of every 10 acres of land in the area—some 170 million acres—are forested (see map). Some forests are diverse remnants  of the nearly 300 million acres of forest that covered the region before European settlement. Others are hardworking plantations, pockets of habitat tucked away on homesteads and estates, or windbreaks calming prairie storms. Most are owned, not by Federal, State, and local governments, but by private landowners,  including the forest industry (see pie charts—Forest Ownership).
These tracts of land have long enriched our lives, providing abundant social, economic, and environmental  benefits.


More than 40 percent of the 413 million acres of land in the northeastern United States is forest. Forest is land at least one acre in size and at least 10 percent covered by trees, including land that once had such cover and will be regenerated.

The northeastern United States is both the most forested and the most populated part of the country. As population grows and development sprawls and the economics of land ownership changes, the fate of the land is changing too (see graph). It is being broken into pieces for development and bought up by interests that emphasize economic gain over forest management. It faces critical issues related to water quality, and fire. It finds both challenge and opportunity in the form of financial viability of private non-industry lands, markets for ecosystem services, forest certification, changes in wood markets, and recreational demands.

Source: A Snapshot of  the Northeastern Forests, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry, NA-IN-01-06, October 2005