What’s the natural resource that gives us the ability to breathe clean air, provides a place for deer to trot and trout to swim, and wood for millions of uses? Forests, of course! October 17-23, 2022, is National Forest Products Week and the Georgia Forestry Commission is joining the US Forest Service and people across the country in recognizing the vital role forests play in our daily lives.
Georgia is known as the #1 Forestry State in the Nation for many reasons. Its 22-million acres of commercially available timberland produces 217 product types through 194 mills across the state. The forest industry has an overall $39.1 billion impact on the state’s economy, is the state’s second largest employer, with wages and salaries totaling just over $9 billion, and generates $977 million in state tax revenue.
Some of the most common forest products made in Georgia include lumber, paper, cardboard boxes, plywood, and other panels. But did you know Georgia is a global leader in the production of biomass, the renewable organic material that comes from plants and trees? Georgia is the home of the largest wood pellet plant in the world, Enviva Partners LP Biomass in Waycross. Nearly 100% of Georgia’s wood pellets are exported to utility companies in Europe, where pellets are burned in electricity generating plants. Generation of electricity using biomass in Georgia has grown by over 80% since 2010. Wood pellet grill manufacturer Traeger has a pellet manufacturing facility in Menlo for the domestic wood grilling market.
Georgia is an emerging force in the promotion of sustainable building materials in commercial structures. Mass timber panels and beams are made of lumber that is glued, nailed, or fastened together with dowels and its use is gaining attention over steel and concrete, which have a heavy carbon footprint. Using mass timber drastically reduces carbon emissions caused by the extraction of raw materials and manufacture of structural steel and rebar as well as cement. Additionally, the carbon in the lumber is stored for at least the life of the building. Using mass timber is a win for Southern tree farmers, local sawmills, the environment, and occupants of the mass timber buildings, who enjoy the look and warmth of wood over other materials. Several mass timber buildings have been built, are under construction, and being planned in Georgia today.
A 2009 study showed Georgia’s forests provide $37 billion in ecosystem services to the state. Those include water filtration and carbon sequestration, along with homes for wildlife, scenic places, and spaces for outdoor recreation – attributes which fans of Mother Nature might say are priceless.
For more information about the many benefits of forestland in Georgia and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.
Georgia Forestry Commission