Regarding the June 18 Point of View “The wood-pellet industry and the harm it’s causing”: In 2002, the Southern Forest Resource Assessment, a comprehensive study that examined the factors affecting Southern forests, was published by the U.S. Forest Service. The study was commissioned to address fears that our forests were being clear cut to supply chip mills, which make wood chips for the production of paper products.
Over 1,000 pages, the study determined that population growth and urbanization were the most significant threats to sustaining forests. Today, these fallacies are resurfacing with the 2015 villains being wood pellet facilities.
According to the most recent data, North Carolina has increased its forestland to 18.6 million acres. More good news is that 85 percent of the state’s forests are privately owned. These private landowners rely on healthy markets to sustain their forests.
So if a new side market emerges, such as pellets, who benefits? Forest landowners, of course. These landowners now have an additional source of revenue from a harvest and an improved path to conserving their forest legacy for the next generation.
The raw materials used for the production of wood pellets are low-end trees and/or harvest residues. Wood pellets do not dictate harvest rates.
Forest landowners earn well-deserved returns on their forest management investments through harvesting large trees that result in higher end products such as lumber and flooring. All steps in the forest management cycle benefit wildlife, especially a harvest that creates early successional habitat that is so critical to many native plants and animals.
North Carolina, the birthplace of American forestry, has a proven track record of conserving our only natural, renewable resource through public policy that promotes private property rights, forest health and productivity and a strong forest products industry.
Compliance with the state’s Forest Practices Guidelines by our professional loggers is over 93 percent. Markets may change, but our state’s commitment to its forestry tradition is proud and unwavering.
North Carolina Forestry Association
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.