Hardwood Forest Industry Is Missing Economic Growth | News

Elks County, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania’s forests are growing two to three times faster than they can be harvested, creating great potential for economic growth, officials say.

That figure is measured in board feet of lumber, which the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says is growing at a rate of 2 billion feet per year, or 2.4 times the harvest rate.

Former PA Representative Matt Gabler, the current executive director of the Pennsylvania Forests Products Association, made the comment while discussing the economic opportunities for increasing the industry’s harvest rate.

Prior to the hearing, the House Majority Policy Committee visited forestry sites.

Hardwood forestry is currently a $21.8 billion industry for the Commonwealth, and the hardwood industry alone employs nearly 63,000 people in 2,100 operations statewide.

This makes the industry the ninth largest employer in the state.

Efforts to recruit and train workers for the various careers in forestry were a major topic of discussion when the Pennsylvania House Majority Political Committee visited for a hearing in Elks County.

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Hearing held in Elks County for the forestry industry

“We have the potential to increase production through better workforce development, such as the recent general workforce development initiatives taken by the General Assembly, tailored to the industry to take on family support jobs,” said Rep. Martin Causer, chair of the committee. .

Pennsylvania’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee has worked to provide training and safety programs for loggers, as well as educate loggers and private forest owners on how to manage the forest resources, comply with environmental regulations and maintain safety.

During a pre-hearing tour of Elk County forests, committee members also got to see some of the invasive species, such as buckthorn and Japanese knotweed, that are drowning out native plants and trees.

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“If invasive species are not taken care of, private forests will be overrun, become unviable and die,” said Rep. Mike Armanini.

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