Virginia’s forests, 2016
Notable in this current resource bulletin is relative stability of forest land and timberland acreage and increasing maturity of the trees and stands that comprise it. Virginia’s total land area is 27.4 million acres, 16.1 million (58.7 percent) of which are forested according to the results of the latest forest inventory completed in 2016. This current estimate confirms that Virginia’s forest land area has remained stable for at least the past two decades. The previous three, 5-year cycles of FIA data collection under the annualized forest inventory have estimates of forest land acreage in the State at 15.9 million in 2001, 15.8 million in 2006, and 15.9 million in 2011. Net volume on both forest land and timberland has been increasing as forest stands are more typically comprised of fewer, larger trees. Net tree growth and mortality in terms of their volume has increased while removals from both harvesting and land clearing to nonforest land uses has shown fluctuations probably related to varying economic conditions like the recent recession. Virginia’s forests face some notable forest health challenges that could significantly affect the resource in the coming years, specifically emerald ash borer, hemlock wooly adelgid, and the prevalence of nonnative invasive plant species.