MS SAF Position Statement on Forest-Based Economic Development
The Mississippi Society of American Foresters encourages and supports all efforts to assess Mississippi's forests as a source of increased economic development and to attract new forest industry to the state. MS SAF encourages economic development organizations to promote forest management and reforestation as a means of local economic development and seeks a partnership with all economic development organizations in Mississippi for the purpose of cooperation to realize additional forest-based economic development for Mississippi.
According to the most recent Mississippi Institute of Forest Inventory (MIFI) survey, Mississippi has 19.8 million acres of commercial forestland. This represents approximately 65 percent of the state's land and indications are that more land is being planted to trees from marginal agriculture annually.
The forest products industry is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Mississippi and provides an economic impact amounting to 4.3% of all jobs or about 63,365 workers. These workers earn approximately $ 5,897per year above the average wage in Mississippi.
In recent years, several new forest-based industries have been established in Mississippi and academic studies have projected sustained or increasing demand for Mississippi's timber products in the future. In addition, technological innovations in forest products manufacturing are developing that will use smaller trees in new ways to make better forest products for the future. New facilities will be built to manufacture these products and Mississippi should be positioned to capitalize on these developments. As states east of Mississippi experience rapid population growth in the future, it is likely that timber harvest pressure will shift westward toward Mississippi.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission exists to assist landowners in forest management and to protect the state's forests from fire and other threats. The Mississippi Development Authority and local economic development organizations assist industrial prospects to identify areas for new plant locations but the goals of these organizations have little in common. More coordination between these and other organizations can better support forest-based economic development.
Forest-based economic development can bring needed high-quality jobs to rural communities and local organizations of forest owners already exist to provide raw materials for the manufacturing process. These organizations should be harnessed to aid in the economic development efforts.
Originally adopted by Mississippi Society of American Foresters (MSAF) on February 19, 2002 and revised on August 24, 2007 and again on December 4th, 2012. This statement will expire December 31, 2017, unless revised by the MS SAF.