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New study quantifies the economic impact of US private, working forests

In the United States (US), an analysis released by the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) on April 26 – Arbor Day – shows that private working forests support a staggering 2.5 million jobs, US$109 billion in payroll, and account for US$288 billion dollars in sales and manufacturing.
"This report verifies what we already know – that working forests are the unique place where environmental stewardship and economic prosperity align,” said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of NAFO.

During National Forest Products Week the USDA announced a new grant to expand wood products and wood energy markets.

In the United States (US), an analysis released by the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) on April 26, 2019, – Arbor Day – shows that private working forests support a staggering 2.5 million jobs, US$109 billion in payroll, and account for US$288 billion dollars in sales and manufacturing..

The new report, “The Economic Impact of Privately-Owned Forests in the 32 Major Forested States” was conducted by forest industry consultancy Forest2Market on behalf of NAFO. The report analyzes Forest & Inventory Analysis (FIA) data from the Forest Service and North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes from the Department of Labor to calculate the economic impact of privately owned working forests across the United States.

This report verifies what we already know – that working forests are the unique place where environmental stewardship and economic prosperity align. There is a widely accepted view that we must choose between economic growth and environmental stewardship, and this data proves that to be false, said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of NAFO.

A national advocacy organization, the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) is committed to advancing federal policies that support the long-term economic, social and environmental benefits of sustainably managed privately-owned forests.

NAFO member companies own and manage more than 46 million acres (≈ 18.6 million hectares – ha) of private working forests – forests that are managed to provide a steady supply of timber. Membership also includes state and national associations representing tens of millions of additional acres.

Significant economic clout

The report updates previous reports that analyzed data in a similar manner from 2013 (published in 2016), 2010 (published in 2013) and 2006 (published in 2009) and quantifies the following:

  • Employment levels
  • Payroll contributions
  • Value of timber sales
  • Value of manufacturing shipments
  • Manufacturing contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

According to the study, of the 455.9 million acres (≈184.5 million ha) of timberland within the 32-state study area, 335.5 million acres (≈13.6 million ha) – 74 percent – are privately-owned while only 120.4 million acres (≈48.7 million ha) – 26 percent – are publicly-owned. This translates into a much stronger economic impact associated with private timberlands.

Approximately 935 000 of the 1.09 million direct jobs and US$47.2 of the US$55.4 billion of the direct payroll in forestry-related businesses is attributable to private timberlands. The total direct, indirect and induced employment effect associated with private timberlands is around 2.5 million jobs and US$109.4 billion in annual payroll.

Approximately US$8.8 of the US$10.2 billion in annual timber sales were sourced from private timberlands. Over US$279.3 of the US$326.3 billion in manufacturing shipments were likewise attributable to private timberlands.

Private timberlands contributed approximately US$92.0 billion of the total US$107.5 billion contribution of forestry-related businesses to GDP. On average, private timberlands supported 5.2 percent of manufacturing GDP and 0.7 percent of total GDP in the study area.

US dollars

According to a new report commissioned by NAFO, private timberlands in the United States (US) contributed approximately US$92.0 billion of the total US$107.5 billion contribution of forestry-related businesses to GDP. On average, private timberlands supported 5.2 percent of manufacturing GDP and 0.7 percent of total GDP in the study area.

To put these numbers in perspective, the 2.5 million working forests jobs represent a greater number of workers than the entire populations of San Antonio or Pittsburgh. With the US$109 billion in working forest supported payroll, someone could buy every Major League Baseball team in the US at their estimated prices, twice.

The US$288 billion dollars in sales and manufacturing represents a sum greater than the entire GDP of Connecticut.

Significant environmental benefits

These outstanding economic numbers are just one side of the coin. The environmental benefits our working forests provide are also unmatched in their scale, said Tenny

Forests in the United States offset 12-15 percent of total US emissions annually, provide 30 percent of the nation’s drinking water, and are home to a wide variety of wildlife. America’s working forests are 70 percent privately owned, and they exist in mainly rural areas in need of economic expansion. Working forests are delivering the economic and environmental benefits these communities need.

In many rural communities, forests are the economy. We see that by growing trees, we can put millions of Americans to work on the front lines fighting climate change. Modern forestry is the common ground Republicans and Democrats are looking for on any future climate policy, Tenny said.

By providing a continuous cycle of planting, growing, and harvesting, active forest management optimizes a forest’s ability to create jobs and economic opportunity, and to provide environmental benefits, like sequestering and storing carbon, cleaning water, and providing wildlife habitat.

Today (April 26), on Arbor Day, we’re reminded that with proper management and care, our forests will provide for our environmental and economic future, Tenny said.

The new report, “The Economic Impact of Privately-Owned Forests in the 32 Major Forested States” was conducted by forest industry consultancy Forest2Market on behalf of NAFO  (graphic courtesy Forest2Markets).

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