Most American’s don’t realize that forest products are a part of daily life. From buildings, bridges, and paper, to energy, chemicals and even jobs, our society depends on trees to provide for us. In recognition of the importance of forest products to our nation, President Obama proclaimed the week of October 21-27, 2012 as National Forest Products Week.
The Forest Service has been conducting forest products research for more than 100 years in support of its mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests. Forest products research promotes the responsible use of wood. New products and technologies that are developed through this research create jobs, especially in rural areas, and stimulate economic growth.
“A vibrant forest products industry is key to maintaining healthy forests,” said Michael Rains, acting director of the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory. “Demand for forest products encourages responsible management of forest lands, helps prevent forests from being converted to other uses, and promotes activities, such as thinning, that help lessen threats from devastating wildfires and insect infestations.”
Forest products support a healthy economy as well. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, the U.S. forest products industry employs about one million workers and accounts for approximately 6% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, placing it roughly on par with the automotive and plastics industry. The forest products industry is among the top ten manufacturing sector employers in 48 states and generates over $200 billion a year in sales and about $54 billion in annual payroll. In 2011, it recovered 66.8% of paper consumed and is the leading generator and user of renewable energy.