Trees are amazing. They help clean our air and water. They provide essential habitat for wildlife and cool swaths of shade during those hot Carolina summers. From the mountains to the sea in North Carolina, forestland provides the outdoor escape and endless recreational opportunities we need to stay fresh and productive in our daily lives. Forestland in North Carolina is one of the biggest impacts on our state, providing economic value and adding immeasurably to our quality of life.
Forests are the dominant land use in our state, covering 18.8 million acres or 61% of the state’s total land area. 96% of this land is timberland, and approximately 83% is privately owned. The forest sector in North Carolina is a robust economic engine, ensuring jobs and tax dollars for thousands. According to economic contribution data from Drs. Rajan Parajuli and Robert Bardon with N.C. State University, in 2018 the forest products industry in North Carolina — including forestry and logging operations, sawmills, furniture mills, and pulp and paper industries — was the top employer among manufacturing sectors in the state, supporting more than 150,400 jobs and contributing $33.6 billion to our state’s economy. On average, every dollar generated in the forest sector contributed an additional 61 cents to the rest of the North Carolina economy. The forest sector in North Carolina directly generated about $274.2 million in state and local taxes and $850.4 million in federal taxes. For more information about the economic contribution of the forest sector in North Carolina, visit https://forestry.ces.ncsu.edu/economic-impact-data/.
While economic contribution is reason enough for celebration and recognition of the forest products industry in our state, most of us place endless value on the more than 5,000 products that come from forests and that we rely on in our daily lives. Thousands of paper products, including writing paper, tissues and boxes, are made using the branches and trunks of trees. Chemical byproducts of the paper-making process are used to make cleaning compounds, skin lotions, artificial vanilla flavoring, photographic film, and many molded plastic products such as eyeglass frames, football helmets, toothbrushes and buttons. Tree gums, which are found in the sap of trees, are used to manufacture foods, adhesives, paints and medicines. And, well that sweet buttery topping poured over French toast, pancakes and waffles — maple syrup comes from tree sap! Furniture, lumber, musical instruments and handles for tools are all made using the trunks of trees. To learn more about these and other goods from the woods, check out this cool Goods from the Woods infographic from one of our partners, the North Carolina Forestry Association.
The clear win, benefiting present and future generations, is this — unlike fossil fuels, metals and other resources, forests are renewable! With active forest management and stewardship, we’ll have forests in North Carolina that will continue to provide these staples for generations to come.
The commitment, investment and hard work of landowners is as important to our communities as the economic and environmental benefits of an actively managed forest. Landowners are a vital partner in our state and are critical to sustainable forest management and stewardship practices. Every year, North Carolina grows nearly two times more trees than those harvested. To learn more about landowners in North Carolina and the importance of their impact on the continued success of the forest sector in our state, dive into this Forest Landowners.com infographic. [Click to view full graphic.]
National Forest Products Week is celebrated the third week in October every year, and while it is important to recognize the significance of the forest sector in North Carolina during this national observance, our appreciation and support for the industry are evident in the fruits of our forestland, which depend upon the dedication and hard work of North Carolinians.