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Private Working Forests Provide Significant Support for Rural Economies

New Report: Privately Owned Working Forests Support 2.5 Million Jobs

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An analysis released today by the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) shows that private working forests support a staggering 2.5 million jobs, $109 billion in payroll, and account for $288 billion dollars in sales and manufacturing.

The new report by Forest2Market analyzes Forest & Inventory Analysis (FIA) data from the Forest Service and North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes from the Department of Labor to calculate the economic impact of privately owned working forests across the United States.

“This report verifies what we already know – that working forests are the unique place where environmental stewardship and economic prosperity align,” said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of NAFO. “There is a widely accepted view that we must choose between economic growth and environmental stewardship, and this data proves that to be false.”

To put these numbers in perspective, the 2.5 million working forests jobs represent a greater number of workers than the entire populations of San Antonio or Pittsburgh.  With the $109 billion in working forest supported payroll, someone could buy every Major League Baseball team in the US at their estimated prices, twice. The $288 billion dollars in sales and manufacturing represents a sum greater than the entire GDP of Connecticut.

“These outstanding economic numbers are just one side of the coin,” Tenny continued. “The environmental benefits our working forests provide are also unmatched in their scale.”

Forests in the United States offset 12-15% of our total emissions each year, provide 30% of our drinking water, and are home to a wide variety of wildlife. America’s working forests are 70% privately owned, and they exist in mainly rural areas in need of economic expansion. Working forests are delivering the economic and environmental benefits these communities need.

“In many rural communities, forests are the economy,” Tenny said. “We see that by growing trees, we can put millions of Americans to work on the front lines fighting climate change. Modern forestry is the common ground Republicans and Democrats are looking for on any future climate policy.”

By providing a continuing cycle of planting, growing and harvesting, active forest management optimizes a forest’s ability to create jobs and economic opportunity, and to provide environmental benefits, like sequestering and storing carbon, cleaning water, and providing wildlife habitat.  

“Today, on Arbor Day, we’re reminded that with proper management and care, our forests will provide for our environmental and economic future,” Tenny said.

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) is a national advocacy organization committed to advancing federal policies that support the long-term economic, social and environmental benefits of sustainably managed privately-owned forests. NAFO member companies own and manage more than 46 million acres of private working forests – forests that are managed to provide a steady supply of timber. NAFO’s membership also includes state and national associations representing tens of millions of additional acres. Private working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. Learn more at

Kate Gatto 
202-747-0756 or 703-945-5875