Georgia’s 24.8 million acres of forestland, which represent two-thirds of the state’s land area, work for Georgia citizens every day. For more than a century, these forests have turned Georgia’s most plentiful, renewable natural resource – trees – into jobs and tax dollars, cleaning the state’s air and water in the process.
A Thriving Economy
Working forests are critical to the prosperity of Georgia’s economy, providing economic growth with new and innovative products, jobs for the state’s citizens and revenue to improve the state’s infrastructure.
Ninety percent of Georgia’s 24.8 million acres of forestland is privately owned – more than any other state. Most of these forests are owned by ordinary citizens providing extraordinary services. These stewards of working forests invest their resources to manage healthy forestland that benefits every Georgian. Georgia’s private forest landowners must have sufficient economic incentive to harvest and sell trees if they are going to actively manage this precious natural resource that provides so much benefit to Georgians. Strong timber markets mean strong revenue, and strong revenue provides a strong incentive for forest landowners to continue to invest in sustainable management to keep their land in forestry.
Georgia’s forest product manufacturers annually inject $28.9 billion into the state’s economy. Georgia’s 22 million acres of timberland available for commercial use – more than any other state in the nation – employ 49,497 Georgians in 163 wood product manufacturing facilities, 1,200 secondary manufacturers, 1,200 logging contractors and another 200 vendors in the state’s third largest industry. Thousands of Georgians are employed at trucking companies, railroads, the port and wholesalers and retailers whose roles are vital for moving Georgia’s wood and fiber to market. Also, Georgia’s forestry industry generates an estimated $604 million per year in revenues for the state budget, including individual and corporate income taxes, sales and use taxes, highway taxes, fees, and miscellaneous revenues – supporting education, public health, safety and welfare, highways, administration and more.
More than three million people participate annually in wildlife-related recreation in the state of Georgia, generating $4.6 billion for the economy. Privately owned working forests provide vast opportunity for recreation to the great benefit of Georgians and visitors to the state. Forests are important to hunters, anglers, birdwatchers, hikers, nature photographers, horseback riders, campers and others. The work by landowners to manage these forests includes, of course, water as a high priority, providing additional recreational opportunity. Without the state’s abundance of working forests, Georgia would not be one of the leading sportsman’s destinations in the country.
A Healthy Ecosystem
Beyond recreation and wood and fiber product manufacturing, what value do Georgia’s working forests provide in water filtration, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, and scenic beauty?
Working forests are fundamental to reducing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis and store it in the roots, stem, limbs and leaves of the tree as part of natural tree growth. This process, called carbon sequestration, occurs most rapidly in growing trees and slows down as trees age. Sequestered carbon is stored in the forest in trees, soil, and the wood debris on the forest floor and in long-lasting products made from harvested wood.
Many of the state’s 44,056 miles of perennial streams, 23,906 miles of intermittent streams and 603 miles of ditches and canals begin or flow through forestland providing a vital infiltration system for the 134 water supply reservoirs that provide many Georgians with a clean source of water. State Best Management Practices (BMP), tailored to the specific conditions and needs within a state or region, address such things as harvesting, planting and roads. In 2013, 209 sites involving 27,500 acres of separate forestry operations were evaluated. Approximately 89.9 percent of those acres were in compliance with BMPs.
Beyond timber, forest products and recreation, working forests provide direct benefits to humans in the form of ecosystem services such as: greenhouse gas and climate regulation, water quantity and quality, soil formation and stability, pollination, habitat refuge, and aesthetic and cultural values. A University of Georgia study completed in January 2011 conservatively estimates the value of the ecosystem services of Georgia’s 22 million acres of privately owned forestland at more than $37.6 billion per year.
An Abundance of Products
Over several generations, the forestry industry has turned trees into turpentine then lumber, poles, posts, panels, pulp, paper and specialty chemicals. Today, trees from Georgia’s forests are used in thousands of common consumer items that play a vital part in improving your health and your everyday life.
Georgia, are committed the sustainability of Georgia’s forests. Georgia’s commercial timberlands grow 19 million tons more wood each year than is harvested, resulting in growth exceeding removals by 38 percent. With a total of 14.5 trillion trees, which does not include urban trees, Georgia has more forests today than it did 75 years ago.
Scientists have studied the structure of trees and discovered that all parts of a tree, big or small, have an abundance of valuable chemicals. In fact, wood and other organic materials – such as small diameter trees from thinnings, logging residues, sawdust and other by-products of wood manufacturing facilities and land clearing debris – can be collected to produce renewable bioenergy. Wood and derivatives from wood, such as wood pulp, cellulose and rayon, are used in over 5,000 common consumer items including:
|Fruits & Nuts
Lumber & Plywood
Smartphone and TV screens