Georgia forests worth more standing than incinerated

Sandi Martin writes in Southeast Farm Press:
A University of Georgia researcher has found that Georgia’s forestlands provide essential ecosystem services to the state worth an estimated $37 billion annually.

This is in addition to the value of timber, forest products and recreation. This is the first time these indirect benefits of Georgia’s private forests have been estimated.

That’s substantially more than the $28 billion annually from the conventional wood-products industry.

What are these ecosystem services?

Rebecca Moore, an assistant professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, studied the 22 million acres of privately-owned forestland in Georgia to estimate the benefits of water filtration, carbon storage, wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

“People value these things,” Moore said, “but because they aren’t like other goods in that people don’t go out and buy them, it’s difficult to estimate just how much we value them. The purpose of our research was to do just that — estimate the value of the ecosystem services provided by private forests in Georgia.”

The VDT quotes Wesley Langdale, CEO of the Langdale Company, the largest landowner east of the Mississippi:

“We’ve always known that trees clean our air and our water, but we’ve never really had any hard data to say how much this has contributed. We know that the forests have to be in place to recharge the aquifer, but how much per acre that contributes to society is something we don’t understand.

Look at what’s happening to our population here in Georgia, with all the new development. If you lose your forest land, what is it worth and what are the costs to everyone? Hopefully this study will help citizens understand how important it is to keep our land in working forests. If you harvest a tree, plant another.”

And a quote from the August Chronicle:

“That’s a staggering number. That’s an amazing number, but that’s a real number,” said Chuck Leavell, the keyboard player for the Rolling Stones and large tree farmer in south Georgia.

Here’s the actual study.

August Chronicle also has this:

Nevertheless, Gov. Nathan Deal, the son of an agriculture teacher, said that considering the $28 billion annual value of Georgia’s wood-products industry, the state should exploit its timberland strengths. He pointed out that Georgia is a major exporter of wood pellets to Europe for heating and energy.

“I want Georgia to be the leader in the production of biomass,” Deal said.

I wonder if he’d heard about this yet? GA biomass bubble bursts.

It still seems to me that The Jobs are in the Trees: Reforestation.