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Missouri's forests occupy more than 15 million acres, one-third of the land area of the state. Practically all of this area is classified as commercial forest land. The noncommercial forest lands aggregate less than 1 percent of the total forest area. Two-thirds of all the commercial forest land is in the rugged Ozark region south of the Missouri River. Ninety percent of the commercial forest land is privately owned and is almost equally divided between farm and nonfarm owners. The Clark and Mark Twain National Forests contain 8 percent of the total, and the remaining 2 percent is divided between other federal and state ownerships.
The oak-hickory forest type is predominant in all regions and occurs on approximately two-thirds of the commercial forest land. The shortleaf pine and oak-pine types combined account for about 7 percent.
Missouri's forests are largely composed of immature stands. Approximately 14 percent of the commercial forest land supports saw-timber stands. Pole-timber stands are found on 43 percent, seedlings and saplings on 32 percent, and poorly stocked stands on 12 percent. Since immature stands, those other than saw timber, occupy more than 85 percent of the commercial forest land, the level of forest productivity attainable in the future depends largely on the care and treatment given them.