FRANKFORT, Ky. (November 16, 2021) – The Kentucky Division of Forestry, a proud partner of the White Oak Initiative, today urged support for a newly released white oak conservation plan designed to bring sustainability to this highly important hardwood species.
The plan: Restoring Sustainability for White Oak and Upland Oak Communities: An Assessment and Conservation Plan, features 10 forest management practices that if adopted can keep a healthy supply of white oak trees that can be found on more than 104 million acres of public and private forestland across much of the eastern and central United States.
American white oak is the most commercially important timber oak, generating billions of dollars annually and supplying necessary material to American industries such as furniture, flooring, cabinetry and wine and spirits. White Oak barrel stave production is an important piece of the state’s $8.6 billion bourbon industry.
“In Kentucky, white oak logs are a highly important commercial species sought by primary and secondary wood industries within the commonwealth,” said Brandon Howard, Director, of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. “In addition, the white oak lumber and forest products are often exported overseas, generating $61 million dollars in yearly revenue for the state.”
Without intervention, the report states, the American white oak population will begin to decline significantly within the next 10 to 15 years. In order to prevent this, active, cross-boundary collaboration, participation and support from industry, resource professionals, policymakers, landowners and others is needed, before it’s too late.
“The Division of Forestry works with various federal, state and non-profit partners through the White Oak Initiative,” said Director Howard, adding the division has secured two competitive grants through the US Forest Service to begin funding the initiative and development of the conservation plan.
Directed by the White Oak Initiative steering committee and developed by the American Forest Foundation and the University of Kentucky, the white oak conservation plan features science-backed data as well as practices to provide long-term sustainability for oak forests.
Please review the full report on the White Oak Initiative website. For more information about the Kentucky Division of Forestry, please visit the division’s website at https://eec.ky.gov/Natural-Resources/Forestry