Vermont’s forest-based businesses are an important part of the state’s rural economy. The forest-based industry (forest products, maple syrup products, and Christmas trees) contributes $861 million in sales to the state economy annually and provides direct employment for about 6,600 people (full-time equivalents). However, these figures do not account for the ripple effect the industry has on other parts of Vermont's economy. Economic models used to account for this multiplier effect in other segments of the economy estimate that the forest products industry actually contributes 10,555 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic output (The Economic Importance of Vermont's Forest Based Economy 2013, North East State Foresters Association).
Forests also provide a backdrop for the Vermont tourism industry. Forest-related recreation and tourism, in fact, provide an additional $1,936 million per year to the state’s economy.
Helping to maintain the working forested landscape and a vibrant forest-based economy is the primary goal of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation’s Forest Economy Program. Vermont's forest-based economy supports employment and provides forest landowners with solid financial returns through planned timber harvesting while promoting value-added manufacturing and tourism.
The Forest Economy Program staff is well-versed in the economic and technical aspects of wood availability and processing - from forest to finished product - including the use of wood as an energy source. Thanks to a number of partnerships, including the Departments of Economic Development and Public Service, specialists work with the members of the forest industry and industry associations to improve Vermont's products' competitiveness, through enhanced wood utilization, forest resource data collection and analysis, and arranged training opportunities for industry managers and employees.
The program maintains forest product industry directories and acts as a hub for information about wood utilization thanks to connections with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Research, the Technology and Marketing Unit at the USDA Forest Service's Forest Products Lab and university researchers throughout the Northeast. Program staff also works with US Forest Service personnel to collect and maintain forest resource information in Vermont.