Understanding a few timber-harvesting basics can help in making good decisions about your woodlands and harvesting. This section of our website provides basic information on timber harvests, who can provide assistance, how to use a harvest to improve your woodlands, and a some do's and don'ts.

Are Kentucky’s trees being overharvested?
Overall, the simple answer is no. We are not harvesting more wood than we are growing. Most of the woodlands in Kentucky have experienced timber harvesting at some point and many have been harvested multiple times, yet the relative area of woodlands in Kentucky has increased over 3 percent in the last 70 years. A quick review of the latest Kentucky forest inventory data collected by the U.S. Forest Service and the Kentucky Division of Forestry shows that after factoring in mortality and all forms of removal Kentucky is growing more than twice the sawlog volume that is removed.

However, a closer look at the data shows that higher quality trees are much more likely to be harvested than lower quality trees. Taking the very best and leaving the rest is called ‘high-grading’ and can lower long-term timber value. The data also show there are differences with respect to the species that are being harvested. While Kentucky has more than 100 native tree species, only about 50 have commercial timber value; of those with commercial timber value, a relatively few species account for the majority of harvested volume. Of the 821 million board feet harvested in 2015, more than 50 percent of the volume came from oaks with white oak accounting for 16 percent of the total volume har-vested in Kentucky. White oak is currently an abundant tree with many wildlife attributes but strong market demand and the increasing difficulty in regenerating it, especially on better quality sites creates some concern for it in the long-term. 

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