ALBANY — State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced New York’s forest products industry has an overall statewide economic impact of nearly $23 billion. The New York State Wood Products Development Council, which works to promote and improve the State’s forest products industry, released a report this week detailing the industry’s economic indicators.
New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball said, “From those who work in and manage our forests to the businesses that manufacture wood products, New York is fortunate to have millions of acres of forested lands that impact our environment, boost our economy, provide recreation, and encourage tourism. Our forest products industry is a major component of New York agriculture and it is an industry that benefits all New Yorkers. I am pleased with the work the New York Wood Products Council has done this year to ensure we all recognize the contributions of our 19 million acres of forested lands.”
New York’s forest products industry supports more than 41,000 direct jobs and $2.5 billion in direct labor income statewide, and ranks in the top 10 in the nation in hardwood timber production. From 2011 to 2014, the wood products manufacturing sector saw a 27 percent increase in economic output and the paper manufacturing sector saw an increase of 26 percent.
In addition to the impact New York’s forests have on the State’s economy, they are also critical to our 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. Approximately 63 percent of the state’s land area is classified as forested and nearly 16 million of New York’s 19 million total forested acres are available to industry for timber harvesting operations.
Sustainable practices are vital to New York’s forest product industry. Nearly 2 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 most number of forest acres enrolled in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative at more than half a million acres.
To help further grow the industry, the New York State Wood Products Development Council funds projects and studies affecting the wood products industry and coordinates policy with stakeholders to increase private investment in working forests; maintain access to privately held forests; improve public understanding of and appreciation for forestry and forest products; and increase export and other market opportunities for New York forest products.
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 Governor appointed members from forest industry and other forestry related entities. The Council’s accomplishments over the past year include:
- Partnering with the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association to provide funding needed for Norway spruce lumber testing. This resulted in Norway spruce becoming the first, major U.S.-grown, softwood species to be approved for construction use since the lumber testing process began in the 1920s; Norway Spruce now joins the spruce-pine-fir south grading category, indicating the wood is approved for home construction applications.
- Providing financial support to the Adirondack North Country Association to conduct a supply chain analysis of Northern New York’s forests, timber supply, workforce, infrastructure, and markets. This helped sustain and develop forest products markets; encourage state investment in Working Forest Conservation Easements, capital grants, and private forest owner carrying costs; and expand New York’s involvement in logger training programs.
- Funding an economic analysis of the New York forest industry with SUNY ESF; and
- Hosting the first ever Forestry and Timber Sports Day at the New York State Fair to promote the importance of the industry and educate fairgoers on the many uses of the State’s forest products.
New York State Commissioner of Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos said, “Money may not grow on trees, but thanks to smart and sustainable policies put in place by Governor Cuomo to promote our state’s forest products industry, which generates $13.1 billion in direct industry output and nearly $23 billion in associated economic impacts, New York’s economy has grown, thanks to trees. DEC remains committed to promoting and supporting the wise and sustainable use of our vast privately owned timberlands to ensure they remain a viable and vibrant resource that support both our environment and economy.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Forest products contribute billions of dollars to New York State’s economy and support tens of thousands of jobs. Through the Wood Products Development Council, New York State continues to encourage industry-wide manufacturing while ensuring the sustainability of our forests.”
SUNY ESF President Quentin Wheeler said, “New York is a world leader among producers of forest products. ESF, from its founding in 1911, has been at the forefront of sustainable forest management, responsible stewardship of forest lands, and research that improves upon existing forest products while developing entirely new ones from innovative biofuels to biodegradable wood-derived plastics. Working in collaboration with the Empire State Forest Products Association, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and other organizations and agencies, we are creating a bright future for New York’s forests and forest economy.”
Empire State Forest Products Association Executive Director John Bartow said, “Filtering the air we breathe and the water we drink, and providing the habitats that are home to diverse species of fish and wildlife, forests are an essential part of New York State. Over 19 million acres of forest in New York offer a wide range of cultural and recreational activities that have sustained and benefited people for hundreds of years. Today, forests provide products we use each day, including paper, wood, and building and packaging materials and a renewable energy resource. Forests generate billions of dollars in economic growth, sustaining local economies and enhancing communities across our Empire State. We rely on them in so many aspects of our life, and through National Forest week, we recognize the value that some many forest landowners offer to the quality of life in New York.”
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 gives priority to increasing private investment in working forests; maintaining access to private forests; coordinating policy and permitting issues with state agencies, academia and the private sector; working to improve public understanding of and appreciation for forestry and forest products; and, increasing 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
For more articles out of New York, click here.