More than 50% of Kentucky's land is covered in forests
Kentucky's Forestry Industry
Forests play a vital role in Kentucky’s economy and in the lives of the citizens of our state. Forests cover nearly one-half of the Commonwealth, providing many economic and recreational benefits. The largest economic benefit comes from the harvesting of timber and processing of the wood resource.
Kentucky’s forest and wood industries in 2016 contributed $9 billion in economic impact. These industries employed over 27,700 individuals. There are more than 1,200 logging companies located across Kentucky. Wood is processed at 732 facilities in 110 counties. Those facilities include sawmills, pulp and paper mills, and a wide variety of secondary producers such as cabinet, barrel, and flooring manufacturers.
The 2016 sawlog production estimate of 746 million board feet secures Kentucky’s place as one of the leading producers of hardwood forest products in the U.S. Railroad ties are another important timber product in Kentucky.
A Wealth in the Forest
Forests cover nearly half of the land in Kentucky and provide many economical and environmental benefits. Trees are renewable, natural resources that are harvested for timber and wood resources. Every single county in the Commonwealth contributes to Kentucky’s $14 billion forest and wood products industry that supports the jobs of more than 60,000 people.
The most popular trees harvested for saw logs are black walnut, white oak, red oak, ash and yellow poplar. The
white oak, left, dominates Kentucky wood exports in the form of oak barrels for aging alcohol.
The Kentucky Division of Forestry works to protect, conserve and enhance the forest resources of the Commonwealth. As a means of meeting their mission, the division offers a variety of programs and services ranging from landowner assistance and master logger training to forest health protection and wildland fire management.
Paper production and finishing brings more money to Kentucky than any other wood-dependent industry. Harvesting lower quality trees for paper helps keep forests healthy.
Logging, solid wood manufacturing such as lumber and cabinets, and wood residues (mulch and sawdust) are also
important economic engines for Kentucky.
Forests for Healthy Ecosystems and Fun!
Environmental and cultural benefits of forests include ecosystem services such as cleaner air and water, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat, not to mention providing Kentuckians and thousands of visitors with recreational opportunities and aesthetic beauty.