Forests cover nearly half of the land area in Louisiana and forestry as an industry has close to a 3 billion dollar economic impact on the state each year. In recent years the industry has been challenged as demand for lumber slumped as new home construction slowed in a struggling economy.
Local foresters say the outlook is improving at the 30th ArkLaTex forestry forum held in Shreveport Thursday.
Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, Buck Vandersteen, says he is encouraged by the reopening of a major sawmill in Coushatta.
"Our traditional industries of lumber, plywood, paper are all showing great signs of improvement," says Vandersteen, adding that the majority of local forestry land is owned privately and not by large corporations. Several new biomass and biofuel plants worldwide are now using wood pellets to produce electricity boosting the demand for forestry products. "Landowners that are planting trees today have a lot of confidence in the future, this is a very optimistic group of poeple," says Vandersteen.
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