ALBANY — New York State has announced new actions to advance New York’s forestry industry at the State’s first-ever Forestry and Wood Products Summit, held at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market in Binghamton. Members of the Wood Products Development Council, academia, local government and the industry met with state officials to identify growth challenges and explore new opportunities for New York’s forest and wood products businesses. During the summit, several initiatives were announced to help strengthen the sector, including funding to support the growth of the maple industry, increased promotion and marketing efforts, and expanded research on key issues.
Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The forestry sector in New York State is a major contributor to our communities—from the economic impact of its workforce to its impact on our environment and agriculture. Today’s summit recognized that and set in motion several ways that we can work together to further support our wood products businesses. I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm our participants brought to the summit and am looking forward to building on our discussions for the long-term growth of the industry.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York is making important progress to protect and steward our forest resources and the jobs and globally significant habitats they support. Today’s first-ever Forestry and Wood Products Summit is galvanizing our ongoing efforts to capitalize on the economic potential of the state’s forest resources while safeguarding their long-term health and vitality. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Department of Agriculture and Markets to advance these critical initiatives that will ensure our forests support sustainably grown wood products, enhance carbon sequestration to combat climate change, reduce the impacts of flooding, and provide wildlife habitat.”
With 18.9 million acres of forested land, New York’s wood products businesses account for a statewide economic impact of nearly $23 billion. The New York State Wood Products Development Council on Tuesday released its 2017detailing the industry’s economic indicators. Including lumber and paper mills, wood products manufacturers and furniture makers, the forest and wood products industry supports more than 41,000 direct jobs and $2.5 billion in direct labor income statewide. It also ranks in the top 10 in the nation in hardwood lumber production. In the Southern Tier and southern parts of Western New York, the industry represents approximately 1/3 of New York’s forest industry sector, with nearly $7 billion dollars in economic output and over 27,000 employees with $1.8 billion dollars in labor income.
The Forestry and Wood Products Summit was first announced in the Governor’s 2018-19 State of the State address to explore new developments and strategies to boost this economically important sector, which is a major component of New York agriculture, the State’s environmental conservation efforts, and its tourism industry.
Discussions during the summit focused on opportunities to expand clean technology and invest in research and development, the importance of growing markets, workforce development and training needs, and continued education and promotion to bolster the industry. Based on the input of these key stakeholders, several innovative actions were announced to increase opportunities for businesses in this agricultural sector.
Grow Domestic and International Markets
- Convene a forum to identify impediments and outline actions to support the growth of domestic markets for New York forest products.
- Expand NYS Grown & Certified to include New York firewood, paper, and lumber industries.
- Support the development of a local market for overstocked plantation-grown softwood timber on New York State Forest Management Lands by broadening available avenues for offering and selling standing timber on State forests.
Increase Public Awareness and Engagement
- Highlight New York’s forest products industry at the New York State Fairgrounds through various events and displays.
- Work with the New York Future Farmers of America and Agriculture in the Classroom programs to attract young people into pursuing educational opportunities and careers in forestry and wood products.
Grow Maple Industry
- Fund capital improvements to Cornell University’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest to support innovation and growth of New York’s maple industry.
- Double the number of active contracts with maple producers on New York State lands statewide within the next year.
Expand the New Forest Economy
- Continue to pursue a biorefinery project in the state, working closely with SUNY, the Research Foundation, and other partners.
- Continue to look at ways to address the development of a skilled workforce.
- Propose changes to the Renewable Heat NY program that support replacement of wood boilers for low-income New Yorkers with affordable solutions that are cleaner and more efficient by May 2019.
- Convene a meeting between stakeholders to consider ways to improve the Renewable Heat NY Program’s application, including the potential inclusion of wood chip fueled boilers, to support markets for byproducts from forest management and the manufacture of wood.
Improve Forest Health
- Revise Forest Tax Law 480-A regulation aimed at improving the efficiency and administration of the program for consulting foresters and program participants.
- Propose the “Regenerate NY” program to assist forest landowners in addressing the extreme difficulty in growing NY’s next forest partly caused by heavy deer forage pressure and competing vegetation.
- Propose Working Lands Easement Program for land trust organizations to administer.
- Establish Climate Change & Wildland Fires Task Force with a heavy focus on land management practices.
Further Research and Development
- Create a New York State Climate and Applied Forestry Research Institute (CAFRI) that will be a partnership involving NYS Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Environmental Conservation, NYSERDA, SUNY ESF, and Cornell University. The institute will initially focus on forest carbon sequestration research in support of New York’s role in the U.S. Climate Alliance Natural and Working Lands Initiative.
- Double funding for the New York State Wood Products Development Council.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “New York, with more forestland than any other Northeast state, will benefit from the Wood Product Development Council’s strategies to develop and expand viable markets for our high-quality wood products and build on the significant economic impact of our forest industry.”
NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said, “Forest and wood heating technologies and products have substantial potential to contribute to the increasing supply of renewable, clean energy in New York, and renewable heating projects can play an important role in the state’s efforts to protect the environment and fight climate change. NYSERDA is committed to exploring innovative ways to ensure biomass heating systems are a clean, efficient and accessible source of affordable heating for New Yorkers in support of Governor Cuomo’s renewable energy goals.”
The Nature Conservancy in New York Policy Director Jessica Ottney Mahar said, “The Nature Conservancy is proud to participate in the summit today to highlight the critical role New York’s forests play in combating climate change, protecting clean drinking water, supporting local economies and providing wildlife habitat.”
Empire State Forest Products Association Executive Director John Bartow said, “The Empire State Forest Products Association (ESFPA) and our members are pleased to participate in the first ever Forestry and Wood Products Summit. ESFPA applauds Governor Cuomo for recognizing the significance of sustainable forest markets and their contribution to the economy, ecology and communities of rural New York State.”
Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Associate Dean Julie Suarez said, “New York’s forests are an incredible treasure, providing economic and environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the boundaries of individual landowners. The Governor’s vision in holding a summit to keep New York’s forests healthy is a brilliant way to focus on identifying solutions to the complex issues of forestry regeneration, and workforce education for forestry professionals, as well as create opportunities for ecologically sustainable economic development.”
The New York State Wood Products Development Council earlier this week also launched its new website,
The website will be a resource for both consumers and the industry, helping to further grow the industry through improved public understanding of and appreciation for forestry and New York’s forest and wood products.
In addition to the impact New York’s forests have on the State’s economy, they also are critical to the environment, producing renewable and sustainable natural resources and contributing to the wood products marketplace, which consists of thousands of products that are renewable, recyclable and energy efficient.
Nearly two million acres of New York’s forests are certified through a third party—American Tree Farm System, Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative—as having sustainable forestry practices. Among all states, New York has the second highest number of forest acres enrolled in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative at more than half a million acres.
About the Wood Products Development Council
The Wood Products Development Council is a Governor-appointed member organization charged with promoting the economic activity of New York’s diverse forest products industries by funding projects and supporting state agency work to achieve its statutory priorities and objectives.
The Council includes members from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Empire State Development, and ten other members from forest industry and other forestry-related entities. It works to fund projects and studies affecting the wood products industry and coordinates with stakeholders to increase private investment in working forests, maintain access to privately held forests, improve education and promotion of the industry, and increase export and other market opportunities for New York forest products.
For more information on the Council, contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Agricultural Development at 518-457-7076 ext. 3 or.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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