How much pulpwood can reasonably be produced in West Virginia?
In an exercise for the WV Division of Forestry et al., a combination of timber harvest and resource assessment data were used to develop estimates of potential pulpwood production in West Virginia. Harvest data are based on those harvests reported to the West Virginia Division of Forestry under the LSCA program. Harvest data were summarized for each county and year, and a 5-year (2006-2010) average was developed for each county in West Virginia. Pulpwood availability was estimated to be 25 tons per harvested area. While this number can be highly variable, based on a number of factors, this may be our best guess for partially harvested stands in West Virginia. While it may seem unreasonable to some, knowledge shared with us from other operators in the central Appalachian region help to validate this number. On a recent pulpwood dominated (very few sawlogs in 27 year old stand) clearcut in Oh, AHC staff were told that the operator was averaging ~67 tons of pulp per acre harvested. While most harvests in West Virginia are not clearcuts, it does help us put our estimate in perspective.
A total 4.5 million tons of pulpwood were found in this analysis. Currently, I would guess that around 1.5-1.8 million tons of the total is finding its way into pulpwood markets.