New report details forest and wood product contributions to Vermont’s economy

MONTPELIER — A new report finds that Vermont’s vibrant forest economy directly employs over 9,100 people and has $1.4 billion in sales. Total contributions from the sector support nearly 14,000 jobs, with labor income over $500 million, and $2.1 billion in sales.

These are the findings of a 2020 report prepared by Public Sector Consultants of Lansing, Michigan, as part of an analysis of the economic contributions of the forest products businesses in the twenty states that make up the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance. The project was supported by a USDA Forest Service Landscape Scale Restoration Grant and used 2017 data for 32 industry sectors summarized in seven industry groups.

“Vermonters instinctively understand the value of our forest economy — whether it’s while eating at the kitchen table, investing in locally milled clapboards for a new home, or the wood we put in the stove. This report does the essential job of quantifying that value, and no surprise, the numbers are impressive,” said FPR Commissioner and Vermont State Forester, Michael Snyder.

Vermont is 76% forested with 4.5 million acres of forest land, most which can produce commercial timber.

The report also found Vermont’s forest and wood products sector:

  • Provided more direct labor income, value-added production, and output than agricultural production industries (a sector with many similarities),
  • Accounted for 12% of Vermont’s direct manufacturing jobs and 5.7% of non-food manufacturing jobs,
  • Contributed to a regional forest economy (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine) which included 95,500 workers and accounted for almost $27 billion in direct sales.

The details of each  group’s economic contributions and the methodology of the analysis are provided in the full report — Forest & Wood Products Industries’ Economic Contributions: Vermont. A snapshot of the results is available in Vermont’s fact sheet.

Individual state reports and fact sheets for the 20-state region as a whole and each participating state are available on the Northeast-Midwest State Forester Alliance.

For immediate release
October 18, 2021

Paul Frederick | Forest Economy Program Manager
Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation | Agency of Natural Resources

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

17 thoughts on “New report details forest and wood product contributions to Vermont’s economy

  1. This article shows the value of the forest products industry in Vermont which as part of our Northern Forest is one of the best renewable diversified tree growing areas in the country. It has become over the years pretty highly regulated and certain practices like clear-cutting are limited to under 40 acres,
    Forestry and forest management employs not only loggers and truckers but foresters, extension agents and county foresters in Vermont. The amount of forest land is increasing rather than decreasing in our state.
    Use of wood for heating has changed and can now be done extremely efficiently and a viable locally sourced component of our energy mix. Every source of energy takes a toll on the earth, but if monitored and done properly ( using the heat as well as the electricity generated) as is now the case in Vermont, wood can have a important use here as with other areas of our life.

    Full disclousure: I cut my own wood clearing my maple lot to heat my home. Family members include one with a associate degree in forestry who is a logger forester and one with a graduate degree in forestry. We talk wood a lot.

    • John,

      McNeil, and other wood burners in New England, use trees to produce electricity at about 24% efficiency.

      That means 76% of the energy input of the plant is wasted, i.e., the equivalent of about 3 of 4 trees is wasted; a gross misuse of a valuable resource.

      Houses could be built with those trees, and they would last more than 100 years. if properly built and maintained.

      If you read my articles, you would be convinced burning wood is only very little renewable, ON AN A TO Z BASIS

      • Wood burning plants for space heating of buildings, with steam or hot water distribution systems, such as the plant in downtown Montpelier, are at most 65% to 70% efficient, based on energy arriving at buildings divided by energy into plant.

        Logging, chipping, transport, unloading, storage, takes 5%, which means A to Z efficiency is about 65/105 = 62%

        Very often people talk about wood stove efficiency, but that is only the combustion, or conversion efficiency. There are various other losses.

        • Willem,
          Thanks for catching my mistake. I meant to say that the harvesting of wood is now monitored in Vermont and not that all the current wood to electricty plants are properly using the heat.

          What we have to balance is where do we get our other sources of power. There are costs of oil, gas, solar, wind, hydro and nuclear that all have impacts and shortfalls including for oil the cost of our involvement in foreign countries with this resource.

          There is a need for markets for low grade wood now that the pulp markets are pretty much gone, if we are to manage our forests to produce the higher grades wood we need for construction and furniture and other uses. Just letting wood grow can result in more disease and fire risks.
          Logging and hunting, which can be part of using and managing our resources properly, often does not look that pretty to many but an argument can be made that when well done, it is a necessary part of taking care of what we have been given.

          • Vermont allows clear cutting on 45-acre tracts without a permit.

            ALL OF THE BELOW-GROUND BIOMASS DIES, and gives off CO2 for about 80 to 100 years, in colder climates.

            The CO2 absorbed by regrowth on the HARVESTED areas, will be less than the decay CO2 for about 15 to 17 years.

            After that period, it takes another 15 to 17 years to offset the negative quantity of CO2 of the first 15 to 17 years, i.e., it takes about 35 years to get back to CO2-neutral, of that part of the A to Z process

            Of course, by that time a logger comes along, sees a 35 to 40 year-old tree and cuts it.

            That means, the decay CO2 of cutting the first tree is cut short, it will never be “offset”.

            That is the fallacy of tree burning being CO2 neutral

        • The biomass combustion CO2 is only about 60% of the A-to-Z CO2.

          That combustion CO2 would have to be absorbed by the “regrowth on the HARVESTED AREA” to be considered “CO2-neutral”.

          Many RE folks say “the forest is reabsorbing the CO2”

          They should be saying “reabsorbed by the regrowth on the HARVESTED AREA”, i.e., the area the tree was taken from, not some nebulous/misleading/obfuscating “reabsorbed by the forest”

          That reabsorption process of biomass combustion CO2 lasts about 80 to 100 years, in colder climates.

          The other 40% of A-to-Z CO2 has nothing to do with biomass combustion CO2

          See the URLs of my articles

          That 40% is like all other CO2.

  2. EXCERPT from:

    Wood Pellets, Drax and Deforestation

    Posted on December 10, 2015 by Euan Mearns
    Once upon a time, back in the 19th century, the world population was below 2 billion and to a large extent used wood for heat and as building material for ships. Windmills, water wheels, draft animals and human slaves provided power for agriculture and industry. This led to deforestation of Europe and parts of North America. And then along came coal, steel and the steam engine. The industrial revolution was born and this led directly to over 7 billion people today. The Greens now want to take us back to pre-industrial squalor with bio mass and windmills.

    Last week The Telegraph reported that Lynemouth coal power station was to convert to burning wood pellets following in the tracks of Drax. This post strives to quantify the impact this policy will have on deforestation and CO2 emissions.

  3. EXCERPT from:


    A nearby farm in Hartford, Vermont has 200 acres of open fields, plus 700 acres of woodland. During a recent logging operation, the trunks of the high quality healthy trees were set aside and cut to 8.5, 10.5 and 12.5 ft lengths, for transport to lumber mills, and the less valuable material, such as tops of trees and branches, misshapen trees, standing dead trees, sickly trees, etc., were gathered and piled up for chipping.

    The less valuable material is fed into very large chippers. It is a noisy sight to behold. A large crane grabs an 18-inch diameter tree, feeds it horizontally into the big hopper, and within about a minute the entire tree has become wood chips that are blown into a 40-ft trailer!

    The tree roots, a.k.a., belowground biomass, are no longer needed. They die, decay and disappear. The very fine, hair-like roots disappear first. The stumps are the last the go.

    The aboveground part of a stump decays within about 25 years.
    The belowground part of a stump and larger branches decay within about 80 – 100 years.
    The decay CO2 is high in the beginning and slowly decreasing at time passes.

    Clearcutting Holocaust of the 1800s

    The NE clearcutting holocaust of the 1800s and early 1900s occurred for two reasons:

    1) Clearing for farming and pasture (haying for cows and horses and for sheep that produced wool)
    2) Production of charcoal for iron working.

    On hilly land, the clearcutting caused erosion of topsoil and nutrients into nearby streams.
    The clearcutting released vast quantities of CO2 due to decay of 1) belowground biomass, 2) dead wood, 3) litter, and 4) soil organic carbon.

    New England was mostly reforested by the 1950s; some farmlands became forests again; some forest area was permanently eliminated by human encroachments.

    However, the clearcutting had damaged forest soils, which reduced the storage of biomass/acre.
    Undisturbed, old forests, on healthy soils, store much more biomass per acre, than young forests on damaged soils.
    Acid rain from the 1950s onward has been harmful for forest soil, regrowth and health as well.

    Forest Fracturing

    A continuous forest is much healthier and has a greater abundance and diversity of flora and fauna than a fractured forest.
    Forest fracturing is due to human encroachments, such as roads, paths, transmission lines, wind turbines on ridgelines, partial land clearing for development. See URLs

  4. EXCERPT from:


    Vermont has the 4th highest percentage of forest coverage, after Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia. According to the USFS, based on 2015 satellite data, Vermont had about 4,511,000 acres of forest, of which 4,288,000 acres were classified as timberland.

    Only about 3,050,000 acres of the timberland acres were considered “accessible, ecologically appropriate for logging” by BERC, a pro-logging industry consultant. However, that does not mean all of the 3,050,000 acres would actually be logged to obtain Vermont’s annual harvests. It is likely about 15% of that acreage would never be logged, i.e., only about 2.5 million acres would actually be logged. See table 3.

    About 90% all of the logging takes place on private forests, i.e., only about 10% on government forests; that 10% likely will be increasing in the near future. The USFS has been building access road in its forests due to political pressures that promote electricity from wind turbines and logging for building heating, which are claimed to be renewable. See table 1, appendix and URLs.

  5. EXCERPT from:


    After 2015, the method of calculating CO2 absorption by Vermont’s forests, etc., was changed to conform with EPA and international standards.

    As a result, the higher values of the old method were replaced with the lower values of the new method.
    For example, 8.23 million metric ton in 2015 (old) became 4.39 million Mt in 2015 (new), about 47% less.

    If Vermont were to reduce overall CO2 to lower levels, then forests would absorb an increasing percentage of the overall CO2, if we don’t trample on the forests, i.e., leave them alone to do their job. See URLs.

  6. EXCERPT from:


    Pro-logging interests use “Burning Wood is Renewable” as a slogan, a mantra, to assure others all is benign, because it helps save the world, fight global warming, are part of the “solution”, and thus deserves to get subsidies via the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act.

    This article will show burning wood is not anywhere near renewable, if the following is accounted for:

    1) The A-to-Z sources of CO2
    2) Decay of belowground biomass after harvesting
    3) Decay of aboveground biomass after harvesting

    Sources of CO2 of Logging Sector

    All of us need to be on the same page regarding the A-to-Z sources of CO2. Here is a list.

    1) Before logging, the logging sector has to be set up, operated, maintained and renewed, which emits CO2, about 3%
    2) A wood-burning plant has to be built, which emits CO2; about 2%
    3) The logging process includes maintaining the woodlot, culling, harvesting, chipping, and transport to user, which emits CO2, about 8%
    4) Operating the plant requires electricity, diesel fuel etc., which emits CO2, about 8%
    5) The combustion process emits CO2; in fact, emits more lb/million Btu than coal, about 56%
    Coal power plants are up to 44% efficient, New England wood-burning plants about 25%
    6) The combustion process emits sub-micron particulates, which requires electricity for air pollution control systems, which emits CO2, about 3%
    7) Delivering the heat and electricity to users requires electricity, which emits CO2, about 2%.
    8) CO2 is released from:

    – Dead wood, 24/7/365; dead wood increased 26.5% in Vermont from 1990 – 2015
    – Forest floor litter, 24/7/365,
    – Increased decay of belowground biomass, after logging; in cold-climate New England for about 80 – 100 years
    – Increased decay of slash, aboveground tree trunks, etc., after logging; in cold-climate NE for about 80 – 100 years

    9) Dismantling the old wood-burning plant and replacing it with a new one, 4%

    Combustion CO2, about 56% + Decay CO2, about 14%, equals about 70% of all CO2, on an A – Z basis.

    The 70% has the possibility of being partially renewable, if the forest were left undisturbed for many decades. See next section.

    The other 30% is like all other CO2, i.e., not renewable. That percentage is almost never mentioned by logging proponents, mainly because it would create confusion and dilute the mantra: “Wood Burning is Renewable”.

    Here is an explanation regarding Item 8:

    Most people are familiar with the logging industry claim, we harvest low value trees for burning, i.e., misshapen, diseased trees, standing deadwood, etc., called net available low grade, NALG, whereas, in fact, that is often not true, based on satellite and drone photos of clearcutting on harvested areas.

    Regarding table 1, people may argue about the percentages of each category, but not about the existence of each category.

  7. Vermont has indeed 4.5 million acres of forest.

    However, less than 2 million acres is economically harvested.

    The other 2.5 million acres are either off limits, for many reasons, or inaccessible.

    These numbers are directly from past forest studies.

    At present, Vermont is harvesting as much as the annual growth ON THE HARVESTED AREA, i.e., 2 million acres.

    Vermont is increasing its harvesting, by logging on State and federal forests, at a much greater rate than before.

    Very few people know about it, because it is hush, hush.

    However, aerial photos clearly show the extent of the CLEAR CUTTING devastation of the past ten years

    • Yup… and most of the big forested tracts are owned by international companies with diverse energy portfolios…follow the money.

  8. Ha Ha, For those not in the know and those who rave about carbon this and carbon that, Biomass technology in other words is burning wood to produce electric energy. So eliminate fossil fuels for heat, wood stoves, chainsaws and the heavy equipment to bring it out of the forest and eliminate Biomass. That leaves wind, sun and water to generate a nation of 360 million peoples energy needs. Not to mention forest fires. Of course there’s nuclear too but not on the table right now. The climate religious cult has their work cut out for them. I call it the idiot apocalypse, they got here before the zombies. While the idiots are brain dead too, they can still run for political office. Yup, Burlington, VT the city of fruits and nuts burns wood for their electricity.

  9. vermont cut our forests down and burn them for electricity and tell everone its green energy while whine that we use wood stoves

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