Economy

This Is The State With The Most Forest

Both internationally and nationally, forests have started to shrink. Part of the reason is that the land in forested areas has been recently used for something else. Another is that the demand for products like lumber has risen sharply.

The number and size of forests are widely different from state to state for another reason. Land use in heavily populated areas is tilted toward housing and places that catered to the daily needs of people. Forests are a luxury.

According to the USDA, forests now cover an estimated 36.2% of the 48 contiguous states, or about 818 million acres, including 190 million acres on federal lands.

To determine America’s state with the most forest and woodland area, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on land use from the United States Geological Survey. States are ranked by the share of total land area classified as forest and woodland. All states were included except Alaska and Hawaii, for which no updated land use data was available.

The top ten states by percentage of forested land all lie east of the Mississippi River, with New Hampshire, West Virginia, Maine, and Vermont in the lead, each comprising over 70% forest and woodland.

Besides providing habitat for countless species and harboring biodiversity, forests filter air and water, prevent erosion, provide society with both natural resources and a haven for recreation, and serve as buffers against climate change, even as it threatens to alter our forested landscapes.

Drought and wildfires, both symptoms of climate change, pose a significant threat to U.S. forests, especially in the West. In the last few decades, wildfire seasons have grown longer and the frequency and severity of wildfires in the U.S. has increased.

The state with the most forest is New Hampshire. Here are the details:

> Land covered by forest & woodland: 80.3%
> Area covered by forest & woodland: 4.8 million acres
> Other major land cover types: Developed & other human use (8.1%); agricultural & developed vegetation (4.2%); open water (4.0%)

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