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Agribusiness

July 3 - Georgia Tree Growth Stays in the Black

Category: Agribusiness

BrunswickBusinessJournal.com Staff Report

July 3, 2013 – More timber continues to be grown in Georgia than is harvested, according to data contained in the 2012 Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) report. The report, released by the Georgia Forestry Commission and US Forest Service, is an annual calculation of the state's forest composition, sustainability and other key statistics. It shows that Georgia's forested acres remained stable at 24.4 million acres, a trend that has endured for more than five decades. With a total of 15.2 billion trees, which does not include urban trees, Georgia has more forests today than it did 75 years ago.  The new FIA report shows Georgia continues to have the most acres of privately owned forest land in the nation. Ninety-one percent of Georgia's timberland (forested land potentially available for timber harvesting) is held in private ownership, with the remainder held by federal, state and local government. State, local and corporate ownership of forest land increased; only ownership by the forest industry decreased. Georgia's working forests provide more than 1.2 billion cubic feet of wood for the forest products industry annually, which is only 2.9% of the inventory on Georgia’s timberland, as shown in the FIA report. It also indicates that annual growth exceeds this harvest level by 711 million cubic feet, or 20 million tons. The continued sustainability of Georgia’s forest resources is good news for our traditional forest industries and for the state's growing wood pellet industry. Georgia’s nine wood pellet mills established since 2007 utilize lower value pulpwood grown in the state or wood residues from sawmills. Most pellets are exported to Europe and are used in the production of electricity. The Georgia Forestry Commission estimates Georgia forest owners provided wood supplies for more than one-million metric tons of wood pellet production in 2012. The International Energy Agency projects exports of wood pellets from the southern US will reach six-million metric tons by 2020. This wood requirement is well within sustainable limits at less than one-tenth of one percent of the region's wood supply. This industry is creating new jobs, helping the local and state economies, and providing incentives for landowners to retain forested lands. The forestry industry has a $25 billion annual economic impact on Georgia, which generates $487 million in state tax revenue. More than 118,000 jobs statewide are supported by forestry. In addition to the traditional economic impact, Georgia’s forests provide citizens with over $37 billion in ecosystem services (clean air, clean water and recreation) each year. Visit GaTrees.org for information about the forestry industry and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

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