By Mark Megalos
Executive Director, National Woodland Owners Association
National Forest Products Week is celebrated the third week in October every year. It is an annual event aimed at recognizing the many products that come from our forests, the people who work in and manage our forests, the businesses behind the products and how they benefit our lives.
While the week often features the myriad product that flow from the woods, we celebrate the private owners that represent the beginning of the supply chain and their role in a vibrant community. Here are a few facts to focus the spotlight on private working forests in North Carolina:
• North Carolina timberland is 78 percent PRIVATELY OWNED — some 14 million acres of the 18.1 million total timberland.
• Forests cover six of each 10 acres of the state’s total land area.
• The forest sector in North Carolina contributed $21.6 billion in industry output in 2019
• North Carolina’s forests directly employed over 73,600 people with a payroll of $4.3 billion, indirectly 148,000 full-time and part-time jobs with a payroll of about $8.4 billion.
• In total, the forest sector in North Carolina had a total contribution of $34.9 billion in industry output to the North Carolina economy.
So, when friends ask you about your woodlands, be sure to tell them about how your forests work to support the economy AND the public through clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, green space, recreation and more. As we celebrate the tangible products that comprise the homes we live in, and increasingly the cosmetics and daily products we use, please take a bow for the benefits your woodlands provide.
As we move toward a cleaner, more prosperous rural community, your forests will play an increasing role in capturing emissions from the air, cleaning the water, housing human and wildlife species and making the world a better place.
Love a green and colorful autumn backdrop? Thank the millions of private forest and woodland owners who make it possible. Hats off to you all!
Data sources: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/economic-contribution-of-the-forest-sector-in-north-carolina and https://nafoalliance.org/in-your-state/?state=NC