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Kenneth Skog, , kskog@fs.fed.us (Presenter)
Chris Woodall, USDA Forest Service, cwoodall@fs.fed.us
Peter Ince, , pince@fs.fed.us
William Luppold, USDA Forest Service, wluppold@fs.fed.us
Ronald Piva, USDA Forest Service, rpiva@fs.fed.us

 

The forest industry within the northern region of the US has declined notably in employment, mill numbers, wood consumption, and forest harvests since 2000…a downturn exacerbated by the recession of 2007 to 2009. Longer term industrial decline (since 2000) has been evidenced by reductions in secondary products (e.g., furniture) and print paper manufacturing which can be attributed, respectively, to the lack of global competitiveness due to high US wages and ascent of electronic media. In contrast, shorter term (since 2008), yet sharper declines occurred in industries such as composite panel production that serve the housing industry. Despite a decade of decline, there are future opportunities for this region’s forest industry. The region’s forests are predominantly within private ownership and represent tremendous volumes of some of the world’s most valuable sawtimber (e.g., select hardwoods). Coupled with this natural resource is a present, but underutilized industry with spare capacity and a skilled work force. As evidenced by recent trends in positive trade balances, the decline of the northern region’s forest industry may be reversed with a focus on new markets (e.g., wood energy) and balancing increased export of unfinished products (e.g., logs) with increased use of the region’s skilled secondary product workforce (e.g., increasing international competiveness of US production).