Last week we attended the S.C. Forestry Association’s annual conference, where a statistical “snapshot” of the state’s forests was presented. Here are what I consider to be very impressive facts:
• South Carolina’s forest industry provides an annual economic impact exceeding $17 billion. Forestry is the state’s number one manufacturing industry, both in jobs (90,624) and payroll ($4.1 billion).
• Timber is our number one cash crop, generating a nearly $680 million income annually.
• Exports of S.C.-grown forest products are more than $1.3 billion a year and growing.
• Sixty-eight percent of S.C.’s total land area, over 13 million acres, is forested.
• The state’s forest mixture is 54 percent hardwoods to 46 percent softwoods.
• The amount of forested land is increasing. There are 2.4 million more acres now than there were in the first inventory taken in 1936.
• Our forests contain over 23 billion cubic feet of wood, more than at any time in the past century.
• The present annual growth of softwoods is the highest ever recorded and hardwood growth rates are approaching a record high. We are growing significantly more wood than is currently being harvested.
• Eighty-eight percent of S.C.’s forests are privately owned tracts, with 64 percent being family owned.
• The average size of a “family forest” is 66 acres and 74 percent of those family farm owners live on the land.
• The amount of forest industry-owned land is decreasing.
• Public agencies control 12 percent of S.C.’s forests.
These numbers confirm the significance of forestry to S.C.’s overall economy. The purpose of this column is to share facts and ideas on a wide range of topics related to forestry and also to provide a forum where readers can ask tree or forestry related questions and receive carefully researched answers. If you have questions or suggestions for future columns, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Joanna Angle is a 30-year resident of Chester County and a Master Tree Farmer. She has previously directed the Olde English District Tourism Commission, produced and hosted “Palmetto Places” for SCETV and helped establish the Chester campus of York Technical College.