Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catskill Woodnet and New York State Forest Products Industry

Through the Catskill WoodNet, Wightman Specialty Woods and a number of Catskill area businesses recently exhibited at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. The goal of our display was to raise awareness and educate show attendees about the role of Catskill WoodNet and the importance of the forest products industry in New York State. Here we take the opportunity to pass along our message.

The Catskill WoodNet is a regional network of businesses that harvest and manufacture wood products from New York's Catskill Mountain Region. Comprised of woodworkers, artisans and sawmills, the goal of our diverse group is to encourage and promote a working landscape that connects people with local forest resources.

For centuries there has been an intimate connection between the people and the forests in the Catskill region. Early farmhouses and barns were framed and planked with hemlock lumber, and their floors and millwork made from oak, maple, or white pine. From baseball bats in Cooperstown to rustic garden settees in Woodstock, roughly 1,500 jobs depend on the wise-use of Catskill forests to support the local wood products industry.

Preservation and responsible management of the Catskill forest lands is particularly important as our region is the primary source of water for New York City. The Catskill/Delaware system of the NYC Watershed covers 1,584 square-miles and provides clean drinking water to over 10 million New York City homes and communities. 90% of New York City's water originates in the Catskills where forests provide a natural buffer to protect the superior water quality in the streams and reservoirs. The remaining 10% of water comes from a suburban watershed east of the Hudson River, however, this water must be filtered to be fit for human use.

The wood products industry is not only important to our local Catskill region, but also to the entire State of New York. The land area of New York State is 30.22 million acres. Today, 61% (18.46 million acres) of this land is forested, which is remarkable considering just 80 years ago New York contained only half this area of forest.

The entire state has benefited immensely from this unprecedented and dramatic reforestation, while at the same time maintaining a diversity of landscape amenities such as farms, water, and other open spaces. The annual contribution of forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreation and tourism to the New York economy is over $8.8 billion. The forest-based manufacturing industry, forestry and logging provides employment for 57,200 people and generates a payroll of over $2.1 billion, while Forest-based recreation and tourism provides employment for over 14,600 and generates payrolls of $300 million.

The forest products industry in New York is comprised of a diverse group of businesses ranging from pulp and paper mills, sawmills, engineered panel plants, biomass energy plants, secondary manufacturing in the furniture and related business as well as the logging and trucking contractors who deliver the raw materials to market.

The majority of timberland, roughly 90%, in New York is privately owned by business concerns or family forest owners. This places a great responsibility on our land owners to manage their forests, a practice which landowners take seriously. In the Catskill region alone, landowners are practicing forestry under the guidance of a long-term forest stewardship plan at over 5 times the national average for regions of similar size. Through careful planning with Watershed Qualified Foresters, Catskill landowners manage their forestland as part of a working landscape providing raw materials to local mills that supply lumber to area carpenters and cabinet shops. It is a strong economic model for a sustainable working landscape: local landowners providing raw materials to local wood products manufacturers that create jobs for local people.

To learn more about the Catskill WoodNet and members of our group, please visit, and next time you find yourself searching for wood products, look for the Pure Catskills trademark of the Catskill WoodNet illustrating a commitment to using watershed friendly practices, buying local and supporting a centuries old tradition of craftsmanship and care for the land in the Catskills.

Catskill Woodnet

Watershed Argicultural Council

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry Report on Forestland Parcelization in the NYC Watershed

NYS Department of Enviromental Conservation

The Economic Importance and Wood Flows from New York's Forest, 2007