Forest Socioeconomics: An Introduction

By Grace Hershberg, DNR Forestry Associate Communication Specialist

Take a walk through a forest on a fall day and what do you see? Probably a lot of trees. Some may be vibrant, their leaves painted shades of orange, yellow and red while the conifers hold tight to their striking green needles. But amidst the beauty and tranquility it may not dawn upon forest users to consider the socioeconomic impacts of forests.

Wisconsin is home to almost 17 million acres of forest land, making it a hub for diversified forest markets and non-market benefits a like. From the lumber and paper industries that fall under the forest products sector, to the ecosystem services provided by forests such as carbon sequestration, forests play a crucial role in our lives through the goods and services they provide.

Economically, the forest products industry remains competitive in both domestic and global/international markets. The Wisconsin forestry sector generates an output of $24.5 billion and provides $7.1 billion in value-added each year. Wisconsin also leads the nation in paper production. Pulp, paper, and allied products account for approximately 70% of the forest product output in the state. Non-timber forest products (NTFP) also play a key role in forest socioeconomics. Some important NTFPs in Wisconsin include maple syrup, nuts, Christmas trees, wreaths, decorative logs and more.

Throughout Wisconsin, both in urban and rural sectors, the forestry workforce is thriving. Forestry directly contributes 64,000 part and full-time jobs throughout the state and the forest products industry is one of the top ten employers in 31 counties. Learn more about forestry and the Wisconsin economy by visiting https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/forestbusinesses/factsheets.

Through sustainable forest management, which includes harvesting, forests provide a balance of social, ecological and economic benefits for current and future generations.

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