Forestry Remains a Largely Untapped Industry in West Virginia

West Virginia’s forestry industry makes a significant contribution to the state’s economy, and that contribution is poised to grow, according to a recent study from the Appalachian Hardwood Centerand West Virginia University’s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

The study showed that the forest industry accounts for 1.4 percent of the state’s gross regional product.

“That seems like a drop in the bucket, but it is pretty significant,” said Clinton Gabbert, co-author of the study. “One of the main conclusions of the study was how big a driver forestry can be for the state and how we haven’t seen that.”

West Virginia is the third most heavily forested state in the nation. Even with decreasing numbers, West Virginia is still one of the top wood-producing states in the nation, producing more than 700 million board feet of lumber, according to the West Virginia Department of Commerce’s 2017 report.

“Private land owners who have this value on their land can harvest every 25 years,” Gabbert said. “If it is managed correctly you can do that again and again. Hardwood forest is not as common in other places of the country, and it is really valuable. Trees fall down eventually. Managing the forests is just as important as protecting them.”

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