Positive Growth, Overall Decline In NM Piñon And Juniper Forests

Aug 27, 2014

Credit dharma communications via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The most abundant types of forest in New Mexico are made up of piñon and juniper trees.

A five-year inventory of the state's forested lands shows the popular trees cover more than 13.6 million acres.

The inventory also shows piñon woodlands that are old enough to produce harvest-worthy quantities of pine nuts occupy about 8 million acres in New Mexico.

Officials say the inventory is the most comprehensive collection of forest health trends in the state's history. It's based on the work of state and federal researchers who studied more than 3,000 areas across New Mexico between 2008 and 2012.

Despite positive growth rates among pinon and juniper, researchers documented an increase in mortality and a decline in growth in trees overall. They pointed to pests, wildfires and disease, which are all related to weather patterns such as drought.