When you see logging trucks loaded with tree trunks driving along S.C. highways, do you ever wonder what will become of that wood? Would you imagine that much of it will end up in foreign countries?
South Carolina exports $1.3 billion in forest products annually, based on data collected from 2007-2010. Leading our forest products exports are wood pulp and paper/paperboard. Next is wood products (which includes lumber, carpentry wood/molding, packaging/pallet wood, logs and poles and particle board) followed by wood furniture and wood-based chemical products. Also included as forest products are pre-fabricated buildings and machinery for processing paper. Most of these leave the state by ship, making forest products rank as the top export departing the port of Charleston in 2010.
The demand for our state’s forest products is truly global. South Carolina-grown wood is imported by our North American neighbors as well as countries in South America, the European Union, Asia and the Middle East. Demand is growing, with Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and China being our top five importers. Other important customers for S.C. forest products are Australia, Belgium, Columbia, the Czech Republic, Finland, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Panama, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
So the next time you see a logging truck carrying wood harvested from S.C. tree farms, visualize the possible destinations: flooring for a house in Tokyo, pages of a London newspaper, desks for school children in Berlin, pine oil to sanitize a Helsinki hospital. Timber is not only our state’s number one cash crop, it is also an important part of the nation’s balance of trade.
— Joanna Angle is a 30-year resident of Chester County and a Master Tree Farmer. She has previously directed the Olde English District Tourism Commission, produced and hosted “Palmetto Places” for SCETV and helped establish the Chester campus of York Technical College.