West Virginia’s forest land area totals 12.2 million acres and occupies 79 percent of the State’s land area. Since 2008, there has been a 1.8 percent increase in forest land. Ninety-six percent of West Virginia’s forest land, 11.8 million acres, is classified as timberland, 304,000 acres is classified as reserved, and 74,000 acres as forest land low in productivity. The most recent inventory shows that the net volume of trees continued to increase, and the annual net growth in volume continued to outpace annual removals. Average annual removals on timberland over the current 5-year period decreased by nearly a third from the previous 5-year average, reflecting the downturn in the economy that occurred after 2008.

Fernow Experimental Forest. Photo by Richard Hovatter, USDA Forest Service

Eighty-seven percent of West Virginia’s forests are privately owned (10.6 million acres; Fig. 2). These ownerships include families and individuals, corporations, and other private entities. The remaining 13 percent (1.6 million acres) is in public ownership. The largest public ownership is National Forest which holds over 1 million acres of forest land, followed by the State and local government with 369,000 acres.

Oak/hickory is the most the abundant forest-type group, occupying 74 percent of forest land. Since the 2008 inventory, the proportions of forest land occupied by the oak/hickory and maple/beech/birch forest-type groups by the oak/hickory and maple/beech/birch forest type groups have changed by less than 1 percent.

Source: Widmann, Richard H. 2014. Forests of West Virginia, 2013. Resource Update FS-22. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 4 p.