2015 Economic Impact Forestry Report

Kentucky Forestry Economic Impact Report 2015

Kentucky plays a pivotal role in providing forest products to the U.S. and beyond; the forestry sector is a major economic force in the commonwealth. Estimates of the economic contribution and related 2015 statistics include:
* $9.1 billion in direct economic contribution.
* $14.6 billion in total economic contribution a 9% increase over 2014.
* 28,408 jobs in the forest industry and an estimated 57,750 jobs overall.
* 713 facilities located in 109 of Kentucky's 120 counties, gaining 10 facilities since 2014.

Logging, primary processing (sawmills and pulpmills), residues and paper converters increased in 2015, while secondary industries decreased slightly.

Sawlog production estimated at 762,000 board feet, stable compared to 2014, with growth still outpacing removals 2:1. Kentucky remains one of the leaders in hardwood sawlog production in the U.S.

Exports increased to $295 million, with barrels (new and used) and white oak lumber still the number 1 and 2 exports. Europe remains the destination for our exports followed by Asia and North America (Mexico and Canada).

Hardwood sawlog delivered prices for most major species with the exception of black walnut were off their highs in mid-2014, down 8.3% overall.

Railway tie logs pricing was stable across Kentucky averaging $375 per thousand board feet for non-oak logs. Stave logs continued recent increases averaging above $1 per board foot for the first time. Pulpwood pricing was highly volatile in 2015. Predictions for 2016 indicate stable sawlog and railway tie markets and increases in demand for white oak. Demand and prices for white oak stave logs will continue in 2016.

The closing of the Verso pulp and paper facility in Wickliffe will result in the functional collapse of pulpwood markets in western KY and a resulting loss of over $350 - 400 million in annual economic contributions to the Purchase region and a significant impact the logging sector.

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Environmental Benefits

Woodlands provide countless benefits that are often overlooked, including:  

  • Wildlife and Biodiversity: Kentucky’s woodlands are home to more than 100 tree species and thousands of other species of plants, animals, insects, fungi, and microorganisms. Kentucky is well known for its wide diversity of wildlife much of which is dependent on woodlands for at least part of their lives.
  • Cleaner Water: In addition to slowing precipitation so that it can be absorbed into the ground, our woodlands help to filter out pollutants and sediments before they reach our water supplies. Kentucky’s extensive running waters and lakes are protected in large part by the trees that crowd their banks and act as filters and soil stabilizers.
  • Cleaner Air: Woodlands help to clean our air by sequestering carbon and other pollutants while also providing oxygen.
  • Recreation/Aesthetics: Kentucky’s woodlands provide the scenic backdrop for countless tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, hunting, bird watching, nature photography, and more.
  • Quality of Life: Nearly half the state is covered in woodlands and these woodlands are a major part of our heritage and they give us a sense of place.