Forestry is No. 1 in Florida
Each year as Taylor County’s annual salute for forestry swings into high gear, the Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam the week of festival as Florida Forest Festival week across the state.
“In addition to countless forest products and amenities, Florida’s forest industry contributes more than $14 billion to Florida’s economy and supports more than 75,000 Florida jobs,” Commission of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said in 2013.
A study conducted by the University of Florida concluded that forestry was Florida’s number agriculture product, greater even that citrus, and that Taylor County had the largest forestry-related economic output of any county in the state, proving once again it is the Tree Capital of the South.
Florida’s forests provide more than 5,000 types of consumer goods that most people use on a daily basis. Some are easily recognized, like paper goods and lumber, while others are not.
By the time forest products reach consumers, many retain very little resemblance to the trees from which they originated.
These products include cosmetics, paint additives, medicines and fabrics used to make clothing. Pharmaceuticals developed to treat cancer have also originated from chemicals extracted from trees.
Trees also provide important benefits to Florida’s ecosystem, including clean air and water, shade and energy conservation, carbon absorption and habitat for birds and mammals.
Putnam recently commissioned the first statewide inventory of 17 million acres of forest land. The study evaluated the distribution, availability and sustainability of Florida’s timber resources.
Some of the findings included:
• 17 million acres of forestland covers 49 percent of the land in Florida.
• Of 8 million pine acres, 7 million are in North Florida. Pine accounts for about one-third of all forest land.
• 63 percent of forest land is privately owned, mostly in non-corporate ownership.
• 37 percent of forest land is owned by federal, state, county and municipal governments.
• 65 wood-using mills in the state are made up mostly of sawmills, mulch, chip-and-saw and pulp mills.
• Softwood pulpwood, mostly pine, is in the highest demand among all timber products.
• 49 counties in Florida exhibit sustainable forests where growth meets or exceeds timber demand.
• There is relatively little pressure for both hardwood pulpwood and saw timber, with hardwood forests sustainable throughout the state.
• South Florida’s 5 million acres of forests are predominantly in water–almost 4 million acres are mangrove, cypress or other forested wetlands.
• Two-thirds of the state’s forests are more than 40 years old, predominantly older hardwood forests.
The Florida Forest Service manages 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting more than 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.