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Careers In The Forest Products Industry

The forest products industry employs more than 63,000 workers in every corner of the state. Jobs in forest management, logging and wood and paper manufacturing are an important part of our state’s economy. Consider a rewarding career in the forest industry, with occupations including:

Pictured above is a cabinetmaker at a custom cabinet company in northeastern Wisconsin. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

  • Logger
  • Forester
  • Truck driver
  • Log scaler
  • Lumber inspector
  • Mill production worker
  • Maintenance technician
  • Electrician
  • Process engineer
  • Quality control specialist
  • Sales representative

Forest Markets – Connecting Forest Management, Products And The Economy

Forest products markets play an important role across Wisconsin’s urban and rural economies and are strongly tied to healthy, well-managed forests. Division staff in the Forest Products Services (FPS) team support market growth by investigating new uses for Wisconsin wood, providing professional guidance on emerging products and technologies, gathering data on Wisconsin’s timber product output and being a bridge between Wisconsin producers and buyers (i.e. the marketplace). 

A market segment experiencing notable growth is urban wood recycling. Historically, urban trees were used by only a few mills in the state. However, the increase of trees killed by invasive insects and disease caused many municipalities to seek alternative uses for urban wood rather than disposing material in a landfill. Recent efforts to market this growing source of material and develop ways to recycle urban trees within communities led Wisconsin to become one of the leading states in urban wood utilization. Throughout the state, markets continue to grow; at least 30 companies are producing products made from urban wood. 

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Working To Improve Forest Utilization

DNR forest products staff work closely with businesses and organizations to use Wisconsin wood more profitably and effectively.

This work ranges from connecting buyers with suppliers of timber and other wood products, to directly assisting both rural and urban forest businesses to improve their profitability and marketing position. In addition, staff partner with members of the forest industry to host and teach workshops on lumber grading, kiln drying, workplace safety and marketing. They also provide technical assistance to improve mill productivity and product quality and collect data for assessing business development opportunities.  Learn more about Wisconsin’s forest businesses here.

Forest Products Specialist assessing moisture uniformity of dried hardwood lumber during a mill assessment. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Participants practicing railway tie grading procedures at an industry workshop hosted by the Forest Products Services team. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

A Day Without Forest Products

By Grace Hershberg, DNR Forestry Associate Communication Specialist

Last week Oct. 17-23 we celebrated Forest Products Week!

This week championed our forests and the products they create to enhance our everyday lives. What would your day look like without wood to build houses, furniture to sit on, paper to write on, tires on your car and even toothpaste to brush your teeth?  All of these (and more than 5,000 others) have a connection to wood products!

Forest products make our lives a little easier while promoting sustainability.

Interested in learning more about forest products? Visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/ForestBusinesses.

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.

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Casehardening Of Lumber: What It Is And How To Relieve It

By Scott Lyon, WI DNR Forest Products Specialist

Lumber manufactured into interior wood products (e.g., furniture, flooring, millwork, cabinets) typically requires kiln drying to reach a targeted moisture content to minimize dimensional changes. In Wisconsin, this dry-basis moisture content is 6-8%. Not only does kiln drying allow the wood to equalize to desirable and usable moisture content, it kills fungi and insects that might be present in the lumber.

However, drying stress—commonly called casehardening or tension set—occurs during the drying process. Casehardening is a normal part of the drying process of lumber. It is critically important to relieve this stress as it can lead to warping and twisting when lumber is later re-sawn or machined.

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