The newest forest inventory data was compiled in a joint effort by the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service in 2012. Keep in mind, forestry data is often reported two years after the data has been collected due to the monitoring process. Hence, the report updates North Carolina through 2010.
North Carolina has 18.6 million acres of forests across the state, which spans some 31 million acres, meaning that 60% of the state is covered in forests. Hardwoods continue to be the dominant species in the state, making up some 55% of the forest canopy. Softwoods, which includes several pine species, are 28% of the inventory. The final 17% of forests are categorized as mixed stands where neither hardwoods or softwoods dominate.
In terms of forest ownership, private landowners own some 79% of the forests in the state. Non-industrial private forests landowners (NIPF) own 64% of those privately held forests while timber management investment companies own the remaining 15% of this category. The public owns 14% of the state’s forests, including 7% that is comprised in the five National Forest located in North Carolina. The forest products industry itself owns the remaining 7% of the state’s forests.
It is estimated that there are 500,000 NIPF in North Carolina.