July 14, 2013

Managing New York's forests

Did you know there’s more forest land in New York State than in any other state in the Northeast? New York is comprised of roughly 30 million acres of land, of which almost 19 million acres, or 63 percent, is forest.

Our forests provide serenity and scenic beauty. They bolster our quality of life, offering wilderness and natural settings for leisure and recreation. They are home to an incredible diversity of tree, plant and wildlife species and are a source of much of the state’s clean drinking water.

New York’s forests also provide significant economic contributions, both in terms of employment and as a driver of economic activity. According to Cornell University, New York’s forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and contributes roughly $4.6 billion, more than 7 percent, of the state’s total manufacturing productivity to our gross economic output.

The Empire State Forest Products Association (ESFPA) says the number of New Yorkers employed in direct, indirect and induced jobs from forest-products manufacturing is 67,456 with a total payroll of just over $2.5 billion, and the industry contributes $8.8 billion to the state gross product.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the economic contribution of forest-products-related manufacturing and services in New York is $14 billion. That makes New York one of the nation’s leading producers of paper, furniture, lumber and other wood-related products.

Forest-related tourism, travel and recreation contribute as well. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) credits forest-related tourism with pumping $1.9 billion a year into local economies. Our forests draw travelers from all over the world. They come to sit beside mountain streams, picnic on lakeshores, hike, fish, hunt, camp, ride mountain bikes, kayak, canoe, stargaze, leaf peep; you name it.

DEC manages about 4.7 million acres of publicly owned forest, including 2.6 million acres in the Adirondack Park and the 287,500-acre Catskill Forest Preserve. Roughly 75 percent of forest is in the hands of private landowners. Those who have properly managed their woodland resources own some of the most productive forestland in the country and are benefiting from significant financial return, rich wildlife habitat and a wealth of recreational opportunities that serve both the landowners and the community.

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