are divided into two types: coastal and interior. Coastal
forests are dominated by Western Hemlock (60%), Sitka Spruce
(32%) and other softwoods (8%). Interior Alaska is vast
extensive stands dominated by White Spruce (64%), Birch
(21%) and Poplars (15%). The most important characteristics
major species found in coastal and interior forests are
Sitka Spruce, the official state tree of Alaska, is both
the largest and one of the most valuable species in Alaska.
It typically reaches a height of 160 feet (49 meters)
and a diameter of 3-5 feet (0.91.5 meters). The wood is
moderately light, does not shatter easily, is easy to
kiln dry, straight grained and is easy to work. It is
utilized in making lightweight airplane parts, boats,
piano sounding boards, interior and general construction
lumber, and high grade pulp.
This species reaches up to 150 feet (46 meters) in height
and ranges from 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in diameter.
This wood is light and easy to work. Its principal use
is in making interior and construction lumber, railway
ties, boxes, and pulp.
These trees can attain heights of 70-130 feet (21-40 meters)
and diameters of 2-4 feet (0.6-1.3 meters). The wood is
lightweight, straight grained, easy to kiln dry, highly
resistant to decay, but it has poor nail holding capacity.
It is used in boats, shingles, shakes, poles and lumber
for light construction.
This medium-sized tree typically ranges from 40-80 feet
(12-24 meters) high and 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) in diameter.
The wood is aromatic, highly resistant to decay, easily
worked and it takes a beautiful finish. It is suitable
for window frames, exterior doors, boats, poles, furniture
This species extends over a vast acreage in the Interior.
On good sites, it attains heights of 40-70 feet (12-21
meters) and a diameter of 6-18 inches (15-46 cm). On the
best sites, it reaches 80-115 feet (24-35 meters) high
and diameters of 30 inches (76 cm). The wood's strength-to-weight
ratio is exceptionally high. It glues easily and paints
well. It also has excellent dimensional stability and
is suitable for high quality pulp.
This species is small to medium sized, usually ranging
from 4-12 inches (10-30 cm) in diameter and 20-60 feet
(6-18 meters) in height. On good sites, birch can attain
24 inches in diameter (60 cm) and 80 feet (24 meters)
in height. It is used for furniture, cabinets, veneer,
boxes and pulp.
This large tree grows 80-100 feet (24-30 meters) tall
and 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter. Black Cottonwood is
very similar to Balsam Poplar but larger. Its wood is
used for boxes, molding, crates, pulp, veneer and lumber.
Quaking Aspen typically grows 20-40 feet (6-12 meters)
high and 3-12 inches (7.5-30 cm) in diameter. It often
grows in pure dense stands. Aspen is near white in color,
has no odor, and is suitable for food implements, waferboard,
boxes, and pulp.
grow in these two main forested areas. Willow and black
spruce are widespread throughout the interior boreal
forest. Willow and alder frequently are growing in the
coastal forest. However, none of these species appear
at this time to be available in adequate size and/or
volume per acre to permit commercial timber harvest.
the hemlock/Sitka spruce forest in the coastal region
will frequently reach an age of four to six hundred
years and their grain tends to be tight with most
the volume running 12 to 14 rings to the inch. Due
to its great age, the defect factors in the coastal
are high. However, the saw timber produces high-quality,
light-colored wood. High annual rainfall and
mild maritime climates tend to allow the timber to
and rot without the normal forest-purging process of
fires and insects found in drier and warmer climate
forest of white spruce and hardwoods is young forest
with an age that seldom exceeds 200 years in the softwood,
or 100 years in the hardwood. Left to the natural process,
fire and disease tend to clean out the timber stands
in this region on about a 200 year cycle. Massive areas
of timber land loss due to fire and/or insect destruction
is common in this forest.