Vermont Forest Products Program
The Vermont Forest Products Program is working to create and retain quality jobs, open additional markets for locally produced forest products, and improve economic development in the forest products industry.
In the fall of 2014, the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board commissioned a Forest Sector Systems Analysis to identify the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Vermont’s forest products industry. The analysis identified the need for network development and a value chain facilitation approach to economic development in the forest products sector.
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund launched the Vermont Forest Products Program in 2016 to help support and promote Vermont’s forest products industry through the development of value chain investment strategies to improve market opportunities for the industry. The program is a collaborative partnership between the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, and the Northern Forest Center.
The Vermont Forest Industry Network tackles initiatives that no single business or organization could tackle alone. It brings together industry professionals and trade association partners throughout the state, including the Vermont Forest Products Association,the Vermont Wood Works Council, Vermont Woodlands Association, Renewable Energy Vermont, and others to encourage more collaboration and stronger relationships throughout the industry. The Vermont Forest Industry Network is working to advance the recommendations made by the Forest Sector Systems Analysis, including helping to promote new and existing markets for sustainable Vermont wood products, from high quality furniture to construction material to thermal biomass products such as chips and pellets.
Vermont's Forestry Industry
Vermont’s forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.5 billion and supports 10,000 jobs. In addition, Vermont’s forest recreation economy generates another $1.9 billion in economic output, and supports 10,000 additional jobs. The industry was hit hard in the 2008 Recession, and finding markets for low grade wood (the majority of wood harvested from Vermont’s forests) is becoming increasingly difficult due to a sharp decline in the region’s pulp industry, combined with the low price of oil and a move away from expanding electric-only biomass in the region. Markets for high grade wood are healthy, but cannot singularly sustain Vermont’s forest products industry. Without healthy markets for low grade wood, Vermont is likely to see continued decline in the industry’s in-state infrastructure such as logging operations, sawmills and kilns, as well as the local jobs they sustained.
Over the past 20 years, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has provided industry analysis, expertise and project support, which positions the Vermont Forest Products Program to have a positive impact on the state’s forestry sector in rural communities throughout the state. Vermont’s forest products industry is imperative for job creation and sustainability, providing economic, environmental, and social benefits for rural communities that have limited economic opportunities. The Vermont Forest Products Program aims to help create and sustain thousands of jobs for Vermonters.