Chamber talks forestry at latest EED meeting

  • Friday, October 25, 2013

State Forester Gene Kodama spoke to the The Environment and Energy Division of the Greater Dorchester Chamber of Commerce Tuesday to discuss the economic impact of forestry in South Carolina.

“Between the number of jobs and payroll, forestry is one of the top industries in the state,” he said. “This is one business that needs to be promoted.”

Dorchester County has 265,483 acres of forestland with a delivered timber value of $23,743,337, the ninth highest in the state. Forestry accounts for $17.4 billion in total economic impact and its $1.4 billion of exports makes it the top export from Charleston. Many jobs are produced as well Kodama said.

“For every 10 log trucks you see drive by, someone has a really good job in forestry,” he said of the 10.4 truckloads per job ratio. “Some people like [the trucks], some don’t, but give them a hand when they drive by because it means someone has a job.”

Kodama said the working relationships in the forestry cycle of: landowners/managers to timber supplies, to goods and service providers and then to manufacturers accounts for 104,000 jobs.

The states 20 by 15 Vision program intends to grow the total economic impact from $17 billion to $20 billion by 2015. There are six steps for the program: retaining/strengthening the forest industry, describing present/future forest resources in South Carolina, increasing wood supply, addressing infrastructure needs, promoting SC forestry products and business opportunities, and better protecting forestry products and resources.

There are 13.1 million acres of timberland in the state with 82 percent nonindustrial private property, 8 percent federal property, 6 percent forest industry and 4 percent state and local. Kodama said not to worry about the number of trees being used in the area.

“There are far, far more trees here than in the 1930s. Trees are like us: they live, they die, someone else moves up from behind them.”

MeadWestvaco Special Projects Manager Mac Baughman also talked about how crucial the industry is.

“[Forestry] might not be one of the sexiest or most obvious topics, but it’s one of the most important.”

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