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Virginia's Lumber & Wood Products Industry
 - Its Importance to the State's Economy -
The forest land of Virginia has sustained a thriving industry since Captain John Smith landed from England in the early 1600's. In fact, one of the New World's first manufactured products exported back to England was lumber and other wood items.

Every county in the state benefits from the forest industry, as each and every one is represented through forest products operations and commercial forestland.

The forest products industry in Virginia is a significant part of the economy of the Commonwealth. The harvesting, processing and marketing of forest products generates over $23.4 billion annually to the Virginia economy.

The information below is presented to help understand the importance of the contributions of the forest products operations as well as wise management of our forests.

Some Facts About Virginia's Forest Resources 
and Forest Products Industry
Over 27% of industrial establishments within the state manufacture forest products.  A survey by the Virginia Department of Forestry (updated) indicated we have the following manufacturing facilities within our state:
Sawmills -160                                                    Furniture Plants - 170                                  Veneer & Plywood -  10
Paper Products - 100                                         Millwork Plants - 55                                    Pulp & paper Mills - 7
Pallet Plants - 55                                                Treating Plants - 27                                      Particleboard, etc. - 10

  • Of Virginia's total land area of 25.4 million acres, 60% (15.3 million acres) area classified as commercially productive woodland.  To this is added approximately 500,000 acres devoted to parks, wilderness, or scenic and historic areas.  The predominance of this land (66%) is owned by private individual landowners.  The balance is split between Federal and State overnment (14%), the forest products industry (7%), and other corporate ownership (13%).

             The timberland consists of both softwood and hardwood forest types.  Approximately 66% is comprised of   
          hardwoods, 22% of pine, with the remaining 12% of the oak-pine type. Virginia has one of the largest hardwood 
          forest inventories in the nation, and still grows twice the amount of hardwood that is harvested for lumber.

  • Virginia has an active reforestation program. The state blazed new ground in the early 1970's when the industry promoted to the state legislature the Reforestation of Timberlands Program. The program is funded by a pine severance tax paid by industry and matched by an appropriation from the state. The monies are then used as cost share payments for private landowners in reforestation practices. The program has been extremely successful, accounting for more than 250,000,000 trees planted, and has served as the model for other states in the country.
  • The forest products industry utilizes annually more than 1.4 billion board feet of sawtimber and 3.3 million cords of pulpwood.

  • One of every seven manufacturing employees within the Commonwealth is employed by the forest products industry. Estimated employment exceeds 144,000 people, and includes timber harvesters, primary and secondary manufacturing, transportation, marketing and indirect and induced jobs.

  • The forest products industry is unique in that it utilizes its own manufacturing "by-products" for many other uses. When a log is converted to lumber, other products including sawdust, bark, chips and slabs are produced and nearly 100% utilized. Bark and sawdust are generally used as bedding materials or nursery use, while chips primarily go into paper making. Most wood by-products that aren't used for these purposes are often converted to energy by burning them. In many instances forest product manufacturing facilities produce enough electricity to run their entire operations, and still have enough left to sell back to the power companies! The industry as a whole consumes enough of its own "by-products" each year to save over 2 million barrels of oil.