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"United States per capita wood consumption (72.8 billion cubic feet in 1999...) is similar to other developed, wood rich countries (for example, Canada, Sweden, Finland,Norway, and Austria), about twice the average for all developed countries, and more than three times the world average for developing countries..."

-Chapter 1, 2001 Resources Planning Act Timber Assessment

Why has Oregon been such an important lumber producer? In part the answer lies in our forest base. Oregon's native forests, especially the Douglas-fir/western hemlock forests west of the Cascade crest, have some of the highest productive potential of all the forests in the world. Since commercial timber production begain in earnest in the mid 19th century, humans have looked to these forests to satisfy part of the demand for wood products.

Each year the average U.S. citizen uses the equivalent of a tree 100 feet tall, and 18 inches in diameter (all wood fiber products such as paper, cardboard, lumber, etc.). That's 3.5 times more products than in 1970. In addition, a growing population means more consumers of wood products than ever before.

So far, improving forest management practices and an increasing reliance on imported wood have allowed us to meet demand while maintaining a diverse forest landscape that provides for multiple uses.

Structural Lumber. Structural lumber is an important component of overall wood consumption. Lumber usage for home repair and remodel and new-home construction represents 70 percent of lumber usage in the U.S. In 2003, the Western Wood Products Association expects lumber usage in home repair and remodeling to increase nearly 3 percent to 17.3 billion board feet. New-home construction will consume 21.2 billion board feet, a slight drop from 2002.

Constructing a 2,500 square-foot house needs about 15,000 board feet of lumber and wood paneling. The size of house we choose to live in, brand new or remodeled, plays an important role in the amount of wood products that we personally consume.

Privately owned forest lands, like forest industry property and family forests, provide the vast majority of timber from Oregon's forested land base. This timber goes for both export as well as to local sawmills. Federal lands in Oregon currently provide very little timber. Oregon sawmills are active in both the import and export markets, producing both basic lumber products as well as products from exotic woods.

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