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MICHIGAN FORESTS FOREVER TEACHERS GUIDE

 


ECONOMIC MEASURES AND WOOD-USING MILLS 1TreeSign.jpg (14912 bytes)

Forest economics is all about the role of wood and forest use in our communities and society.  It is NOT simply about money.  Dollar stocks and flows are measures of economic activity, not the definition.   Forests are an integral piece in the life-blood of many of our communities and are essential to everyone.  Try to imagine life without wood products!  Or, think about Michigan lifestyles without forests!  Keep in mind that each of us uses about 4.5 pounds of wood EACH day.  That's equivalent to about half a 2 by 4. 

Wood is a prime environmental solution to many of our raw material requirements.  The following essays provide excellent background about the economic, environmental, and ethical use of wood.
          Jim Bowyer, University of Minnesota, Department of Wood and Paper Science.
          Patrick Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace.

Comparison of Michigan Forest Product Values with
Values of Major Agricultural Commodity Groups, 1994
ValueBarChart.jpg (26517 bytes)

Source:  Ag Source: www.mda.state.mi.us/mass/stats99/econ.htm#2
Forestry Source: Michigan Forest Economy, MSU, table 5a
Year 1994 is used because it was the latest available statistics for forest products

Not surprisingly, forest industries and wood-using industries comprise one of the largest economic sectors in Michigan.  The annual monetary value exceeds nine billion dollars, and those figures are from 1994!   In comparison, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP = the value of all goods and service generated within the state) is about $325 dollars.  Just the annual value of raw wood products delivered to Michigan mills exceeds 530 million dollars (in 1994, Potter-Witter and Stevens, 1996).  Employment and value-added products (something made from raw wood) was worth about 6.6 billion dollars in 1992 (Potter-Witter and Stevens, 1996).  Over 125,000 people work in these industries.  Recent analyses by the Michigan Forest Products Council show the size of the forest products sector even larger.  

You will find differing values depending upon the analysis, but all of them are large numbers which illustrate one of the important aspects of our forests . . . a major driver in our state economy!

All these "facts" represent more than just numbers.  They represent livelihoods, communities, schools, families, and much more.   One of the best aspects of the forest industry is that it is dependent on raw materials that are not only recyclable and reusable, but they are also renewable!   However, this page will deal mostly with some of the "cold, hard facts" about Michigan's forest industry.

 

 


MICHIGAN WOOD-USING MILLS

Once out of the forest, logs, pulpwood, and chips are delivered to a wide range of mills that process the wood into either a useable product or material that will be used in the manufacture of other products.

Most commonly, we think of sawlogs being sawn into lumber or peeled into veneer, and pulpwood being made into paper pulp.  These are primary wood-using mills, and there are about 367 of them in Michigan.  Secondary manufacturers will take the lumber, veneer, and pulp, and make them into the nearly 900 different products made in Michigan.  We have 1300 of these secondary manufacturers.

Wood-using mills are a valuable part of Michigan's forest industry and come in a wide variety of types.  They occur in each of Michigan's 83 counties.  A "primary" wood-using mill utilizes raw products from the forest (logs, chips, pulpsticks, etc.).   Examples would be a sawmill or pulp mill.  A "secondary" wood-using mill uses value-added products from primary wood-using mill.  Examples would be paper mills or furniture plants.  There can be several secondary mill links in a wood product "food chain".   Michigan has about 345 primary and over 1,300 secondary wood-using mills.  Additionally, there are over 850 producers that manufacture logs, pulpwood, and other raw wood products.

Some mills are very large, such as the pulp and paper mills owned by the Mead Corporation or International Paper.  They employ thousands of workers and consume large volumes of wood each year.  However, most mills are small, employing only a few workers.

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MeadMill-01.jpg (99130 bytes)

MI Industry.jpg (64578 bytes)Most mills are located in southern Michigan.    Most of the state wood producers (loggers, truckers, wood brokers, etc.) are located in the north close to where most of the forest resource grows.  Wood materials must be transported to these mills.   Over half of Michigan's forest industry is involved with producing the raw wood products.  The furniture industry is a large part of the picture.  PieCompanies.jpg (22538 bytes)

In many rural counties, forest industry is a critical element in the local economies.   Over 500 million dollars flows into smaller northern towns just from the sale of logs and other raw wood products.  Statewide, value-added industries contribute another 6-7 billion dollars on an annual basis. 

 

The Michigan DNR maintains a directory of loggers, truckers, wood brokers,and wood-using industries in Michigan.  Click here to leave this website and view the "Michigan Forest Products Industry" database.

 

 

 

 

 

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WOOD PRODUCTION IN THE LAKE STATES

Compared to Wisconsin and Minnesota, Michigan forests harvest less wood per acre.  This is part of the reason why Michigan's timber "surplus" is one of the highest in the nation.  The thought might be that we manage and harvest our forests less intensively than our sister states.  However, there are other possible explanations for this ranking.

Michigan also has a different composition of forest types.   Further west, average annual rainfall drops off and forest composition changes.    Wildfire had an increasingly larger role in forest ecology closer to the Great Plains, affecting forest composition. 

Uneven-aged forest types, such as northern hardwoods (maple-beech-yellow birch), occupy larger proportions of Michigan's forest scape than in Wisconsin or Minnesota.  These types are typically thinned on a regular basis rather than clearcut.  Thinning and selection harvesting produce less wood volume per acre within the time frame of a decade or so.  This is especially true of our largely middle-aged northern hardwoods being managed to create uneven-aged stands from even-aged stands left over from past logging practices.

Even-aged forest types, such as aspen, red pine, jack pine, oak-hickory, and paper birch, become more frequent as you move west.  Even-aged types tend to mature and decline in widespread "boom and bust" cycles.  So, when the "boom" comes, harvest is accelerated to minimize the "bust".  This boom-and-bust cycle has also been accentuated by our logging history and subsequent treatment of the land.   Much of our Lake States aspen, paper birch, and jack pine resources have reached maturity.

REMOVALS BY OWNERSHIP FOR MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN, AND MINNESOTA

Owner
Acres
(1000)
Removals
(1000 cubic feet)
1000 cubic feet
per acre
WI-Indian
MN-Federal
MN-County/Municipal
MN-Corporate
WI-Forest Industry
MN-Forest Industry
MN-Statewide
MN-Indian
MN-Individual
MI-Forest Industry
WI-Individual
WI-Statewide
MN-State Land
MI-Corporate
WI-County/Municipal
WI-Federal Land
MI-Federal Land
MI-County/Municipal
WI-Corporate
WI-State Land
MI-State Land
MI-Statewide
MI-Individual
MI-Indian
344
2,019
2,503
5,291
1,102
751
14,723
484
613
1,514
9,018
15,702
3,063
2,062
2,282
1,521
2,592
256
692
744
3,728
18,616
8,449
15
11,180
54,911
66,984
137,652
28,032
18,988
369,842
12,044
15,217
35,464
203,333
332,189
64,046
37,137
41,074
26,946
41,499
4,090
10,562
11,062
55,058
274,316
101,068
n/a
32.5
27.2
26.8
26.0
25.4
25.3
25.1
24.9
24.8
23.4
22.6
21.2
20.9
18.0
18.0
17.7
16.0
16.0
15.3
14.9
14.8
14.7
12.0
n/a
Source: Schmidt, 1996 (Wisconsin); Miles, Chen, & Leatherberry, 1990 (Minnesota); Leatherberry & Spencer, 1993 (Michigan).

 

Proportion of Fire-Dependent Forest Types
and Northern Hardwoods in the Lake States

State
Fire
Types
Northern
Hardwoods
Michigan
Wisconsin
Minnesota
36 %
46 %
53 %
39 %
34 %
10 %
Source: Schmidt, 1996 (Wisconsin); Miles, Chen, & Leatherberry,
1990 (Minnesota); Leatherberry & Spencer, 1993 (Michigan).

 

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MCF Benchmarks
  SS.IV.1.ms1, SS.IV.1.ms2, SS.IV.1.ms3, SS.IV.2.ms2, SS.IV.2.ms4

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MSUElogo.tif (16254 bytes) This website was developed and created by Michigan State University Extension for the teachers of the State of Michigan.  The website is maintained by the Delta-Schoolcraft Independent School District in support of the Michigan Forests Forever CD-ROM from the Michigan Forest Resource Alliance.

Page Name:  Products/Economics.htm
Please provide comments to Bill Cook:  cookwi@msu.edu or 786-1575