Forests and forestry in Arkansas during the last two centuriesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Arkansas has had a long and storied history related to its forests and forestry. Ever since its acquisition in the Louisiana Purchase, timber has played a large role in the socioeconomic development of this state. In the 1880s, it was estimated that Arkansas had about 13 million ha (32 million ac) of forests and several hundred billion board feet of timber, numbers that fell dramatically as commercial lumbering spread across the state. After reaching historic lows in forest coverage and volume around the end of World War II, better conservation measures and the widespread implementation of sustainable forestry and fire suppression has allowed for some recovery of forested cover (now stabilized at about 7.3 million ha [18 million ac]) and a steady increase in timber volume (currently estimated at over 0.8 billion m3 [27 billion ft3]). Over one-third of the timber volume in Arkansas is pine (Pinus spp.), a number that is expected to increase as pine plantations continue to replace natural-origin pine and pine-hardwood stands. Recent changes in ownership, increased management intensity, and threats to the health of Arkansas timberlands will continue to challenge foresters well into the future.