This section is from the book "A Few Suggestions On Tree Planting", by C. S. Sargent.
Larch And Scotch Pine, transplanted from the nursery in 1853, are now forty feet high, and from ten to twelve inches in diameter at one foot from the ground. Trees of the Scotch pine, raised from seed planted in 1861, where the trees have grown, but in favorable situations, and which have been properly thinned, have been cut this winter, and measured thirty feet in height and ten inches in diameter one foot from the ground, while the average of the trees in a large plantation of Scotch pine, made in the same manner in 1862, and which has received no special care, is twenty feet high and six inches in diameter. Plants of the Corsican pine are now eight feet high in only eight years from seed, the growth of the last three years being over five feet.
When we consider the success which has attended the experiments of these gentlemen in reclothing their property with forest growth, under circumstances, too, as disadvantageous as it is possible for Massachusetts to offer, it must be acknowledged that the attempt to replant our unimproved lands is a perfectly feasible one, and the only wonder is that the inhabitants of Essex and Barnstable Counties, with such examples before them, have not already planted their worthless, worn-out lands with a crop which would yield a larger profit than any they have produced since the first clearing of the forest.
Enormously as the price of all forest products has advanced during the last twenty-five years, their future increase in value must be more rapid as the supply becomes more and more inadequate to the demand. The great timber districts of the northern hemisphere have now all been called on to supply the always increasing wants of the civilized world, while no provision has as yet been made, except in limited areas, and on an entirely insufficient scale, to provide artificially the wood on which our descendants must depend.
In Europe, Norway and Sweden, Russia, Germany, and possibly Belgium, are the only countries which yield more forest products than they consume; while the other European countries, especially Great Britain and the extreme southern nations, are enormous consumers of imported wood. In the United States, according to Mr. Marsh's estimate, Oregon is the only State in which there is an excess of forest. New York and Maine, which were formerly the chief lumber-producing States of the East, now do not cut enough for the use of their own inhabitants, and depend on Canada for a large portion of their supply. And this seems to be true of all the States of the Union, with the exception of Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The annual forest destruction in the three last States is enormous, and they must soon depend on extraneous sources for their domestic supply. According to an article in the " St. Louis Republican," quoted by Mr. Marsh, 3,311,372,225 feet of lumber were cut in 1869 in these three States, from 883,132 acres; and the same article estimated that there were only about 15,500,000 acres of forest left in these States to be cut off, or only fifteen or twenty years' supply. When this is gone, the world will be deprived of one of its richest stores of lumber.
How long the supply in the British Possessions in North America will last, it is impossible to estimate. Heavy drains are already being made on it. During the three years ending June 30,1871, the Dominion of Canada exported lumber to the value of $03,131,008, gold; the trade increasing during that time about $1,000,000 each year.
In spite of the substitution in many parts of the country of coal as fuel, both for domestic purposes and for the generation of steam; in spite of the increasing employment of other material, both in the construction of buildings and various implements, and for ship-building, the demand for wood in the United States has stimulated the supply until the figures which mark its increase seem almost incredible.
The railroads are enormous consumers, both in fuel, in the construetion of cars and buildings, and for sleepers. " The Monthly Report of the Bureau of Agriculture " for November and December, 1869, estimated that the annual expenditure of the railroads at that time lor wood for buddings, repairs, and cars, was $38,000,000, and that the locomotives of the United States consumed $50,000,000 worth for fuel annually. Supposing this is correct, and that the wood is worth $4 a cord (a large estimate), this yearly consumption of fuel by the railroads would represent twenty-five years' growth on 350,000 acres.
By the last returns there are in the United States 72,633 miles of railroad in operation, and the addition of double tracks and sidings will probably increase this amount to 85,000 miles.
Supposing the life of a sleeper is seven years, the 85,000 miles of track consume annually 34,000,000 sleepers, or thirty years' growth on 68,000 acres of the best natural woodlands; or if the sleepers are raised artificially, some 700,000 acres would be required, planted with trees best adapted for the purpose, regularly cropped and scientifically managed, to supply the railroads already constructed. At least 125,000 miles of fencing are required to enclose the railroads of the country, which could not have cost on an average less than $700 a mile. One half of this would barely represent the cost of the wood employed, or $43,000,000; while it must take annually lumber to the value of not less than $4,000,000 to keep these fences in repair.
By the last return I have seen (1872), there were in operation in the United States 05,000 miles of telegraph, which destroyed in their construction 2,600,000 trees for poles, while the annual repairs must call for some 250 000 more.
The 20,000,000 000 matches manufactured in the United States annually require, according to Mr. Marsh, 230,000 cubic feet of the best pine lumber.
At least 1,450,000 cords of wood, principally pine, were required to bake the 2,899,382 thousand bricks which the census of 1870 gives as the number made in that year, requiring the cutting off the trees from 36,000 acres.
The manufacture of shoe-pegs (a Massachusetts industry, but now carried on beyond the limits of the State for want of material here) consumes annually 100,000 cords of white birch worth $1,000,000.
In 1850 the value of the pine packing-boxes made in the United States was $1,000,000; in 1870 they were valued at $8,200,000. The value of the material made into wooden ware in the United States increased from $436,000 in 1850, to $1,600,000 in 1870. The value of the material converted into agricultural implements in the United States in 1850 was only $S,000,000, while in 1870 it had reached the enormous sum of $73,000,000, of which the forests must have furnished twenty millions' worth. The enormous consumption of wood in this country will, however, be sufficiently shown by the following figures.
In 1860, the value of logs sawed into lumber was $43,000,000; in 1870, it was over $103,000,000, — an increase which neither the growth of population or the general advance in all prices can account for, and which can only be explained by the supposition that the uses to which forest products 2 are applied are being rapidly extended, and that the foreign demands on American forests are increasing. But the statistics of the lumber trade do not show the entire destruction which is going on in our forests. Mr. Frederic Starr, Jr.,* in an interesting paper on the American forests, estimated that during the ten years between 1850 and 1860, 30,000,000 acres of forest-covered land were cleared in the United States for agricultural purposes, or ten thousand a day for each working day during that time. Of the trees thus cut, probably the largest portion never found their way to market, but were destroyed by fire for the sake of getting them off the land as rapidly as possible; and although lumber is now too valuable to justify any such mode of clearing, it is not improbable that trees capable of producing millions of feet are annually sacrificed in this manner.
These facts and figures prove, whatever other objections there may be to re-covering a portion of this State with forest growth, that the farmers will not want a market for all the lumber they can produce, and at prices far above those of the present time.
In order that any system of arboriculture may be successfully carried out, it is necessary to consider what trees, both native and foreign, can be grown in this State to the greatest advantage; and the profits of such an undertaking as I advocate will be immensely increased, if suitable selections for the various situations of soil and climate are made.