The 13 million acres of South Carolina’s forests and timberlands improve the quality of our lives and are the cultural and economic foundation in rural communities. They contribute more than 90,000 jobs and add $18.6 billion to our state’s economy and save the government millions of dollars by helping to clean our air and drinking water and provide wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities.
These forests, 88 percent of which are privately owned, are planted and replanted to produce the raw materials for products we use every day. Because timberland owners make long-term commitments to managing their forests sustainably and replant after harvesting, our state’s forested land has increased by more than 2 million acres since the 1930s. Today, those trees help offset 13 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions annually.
More attention is being paid to how buildings and building materials impact the environment, and wood is the perfect green building material, because it is renewable, stores carbon that reduces greenhouse gases and is energy efficient.
Our forests are thriving, but their growth is contingent on strong markets for forest products — from the framing for our homes and the paper we use in communications to packaging for our goods and tissue products for our hygiene and the screens on our cell phones. Strong sales allow timberland owners to re-invest the money from harvesting trees to planting more trees and keeping their forests healthy. This benefits all our state’s citizens.
A healthy and vital forestry economy is essential to South Carolina and the nation. The success of the industry is due in part to federal and state timber tax policies that promote healthy forests. With all the talk in Washington and Columbia about “tax reform,” we urge our elected officials to remember that the current tax laws have worked well for the forest-products industry — and to continue to support these policies.
President, S.C. Forestry Association