Standing timber prices have been mixed in Georgia over the course of 2010, according to Forest2Market, the industry’s only provider of local timber price reports based on actual sales transactions.
Pine pulpwood prices have seen the most dramatic change during the year, an increase of 43 percent. For the period running from Oct. 1 through Dec. 1, the two-month weighted average price for pine pulpwood was $9.25 per ton in 2009; in 2010, the two-month average for the same period was $13.19 per ton, nearly $4.00 per ton higher. Forest2Market timber market analyst, Mike Fiery, attributes this jump to the relative strength of the global pulp and paper market this year.
Prices for other timber products were mixed. Pine sawtimber prices fell 9 percent year over year. The two-month weighted average at the end of 2009 was $28.44 per ton in 2009; in 2010, it was $25.90 per ton. Small pine saw logs (also known as cut-n-saw) rose by 8 percent, from a two-month weighted average of $15.56 per ton in 2009 to $16.85 per ton in 2010.
Hardwood sawtimber rose 6 percent, from $25.48 per ton in the October 1 through December 1 period in 2009 to $27.06 per ton during the same period in 2010. Hardwood pulpwood fell from $9.76 per ton at the end of 2009 to $7.94 per ton at the end of 2010, a 19 percent decline.
Twenty-four million of Georgia’s acres are forested; 22 million of these acres are privately owned. According to the Georgia Forestry Association, more than 260,000 private individuals own these acres and rely on the timber harvested there for income. More than 30 million tons of timber products have been harvested in Georgia year to date in 2010, bringing in $420 million in revenue for these landowners. While these numbers are certainly less than mid-decade highs, when forestry-related industries in the state supported more than 50,000 jobs and contributed more than $6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), the timber industry continues to be very important to the economic health of Georgia’s rural counties.
Looking forward, Fiery expects that bioenergy will grow in importance for the timber industry. “New markets for Georgia’s timber will be the key to the future, as the housing market is not likely to return to its former highs for several years. The wood-to electricity and biofuels facilities that are scheduled for conversion or construction are a good sign for the industry, as the industry tends to be stronger when there are more markets for timber products. RWE may start buying logs as early as this month, and Georgia Power is once again pursuing the conversion of coal plants like Plant Mitchell to biomass.”
Georgians should not be concerned that these new markets for timber products will lead to the destruction of the state’s forests. According to Fiery, annual forest growth exceeds annual forest harvests in the state by 35 percent. “Even as more wood-to-energy facilities come online, Georgia’s forests are in a good position to support high levels of industry employment into the future.”
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