Wood-saving and climate change have taken a toll on the timber industry.
Now, a study suggests that some trees that were planted in the late 1990s could be worth billions in the future.
The study, led by the University of California at Santa Cruz, was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
It found that while there is a growing demand for wood products, some species have declined over the years.
It also found that some species could be valued for more than $1 billion.
“We have a very important, albeit incomplete picture of where our forests stand in terms of value and the value that we expect to get from them,” said co-author John F. Burt, a UC Santa Cruz professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
A group of trees is pictured in a forest in eastern Brazil in this April 21, 2011, handout photo.
Borrowing wood for conservation in the wild was “the right thing to do,” Burt said.
Burt’s team found that the pine and fir species that are now being planted in California have not recovered from the effects of climate change.
They also found the wood used to build houses and schools in some of these areas is not as durable as it was during the boom years.
“That’s because, as we’ve seen, in these past years, we’ve had a very severe drought in the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Southeast, and it’s been quite a hard time to get timber out of the ground,” Birt said.
“It’s not as easily sourced in California, and there’s not the same demand.”
The researchers found that a number of species have been “substantially reduced,” including those that used to grow in the central and eastern U.S. and were once valued for hundreds of millions of dollars.
The species that have declined include the California redwood, which is expected to be worth up to $1.5 billion in the near future.
Birt’s research team found the forest is a better place to look for timber than the wild.
The trees are often planted in high-value areas with the hope of saving money on maintenance and protecting the forest.
In the past, the researchers have seen a decline in trees due to the loss of native forests and the expansion of agricultural plantations.
In the future, the study suggests, those species could provide valuable value for the state’s taxpayers.
While the researchers were unable to find a way to price wood, they could at least try to find ways to protect the forest that the trees are planted in.
“If we can identify these trees that are going to be lost, we can actually help those species to recover, but we have to take some steps to protect those trees,” Burch said.
Burt is now studying how much trees could be saved by planting trees that have been damaged or destroyed in the past.
“Our research is exploring what happens when you’re in the process of planting trees in the forests,” he said.