Tongass National Forest, National Geographic Magazine: Timber Exports To Asia

Timber is loaded for export onto a ship at South Prince of Wales, a heavily logged island in Alaska’s southeast. Although the industry has declined, most present day logging is done on Native Corporation and Forest Service land.

Much of the native Sitka spruce, western red cedar and Alaska Cypress is mostly sold for papermaking. Alaska exports much of its timber to Asia, and recently China has surpassed Japan as the largest importer.

Native Corporation Lands are those designated by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). This Act awarded approximately 148,500,000 acres (601,000 km2) of federal land in Alaska to private native corporations that were created under the ANCSA. 632,000 acres of those lands were hand picked, old growth areas of the Tongass National Forest and are still surrounded by public National Forest land. These lands are now private and under the management of Sealaska.

Transference of public National Forest land to a privately owned corporation removes it from protection by federal law and allows the owners to use the land in whatever way they see fit without regard to the effects of the use on surrounding lands and ecosystems. This has caused much controversy involving the business interests of Native Regional Corporations and the personal interests of local native and non-native residents of southeastern Alaska.

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