lumberManufacturing forest products contributes greatly to Wisconsin’s economy, with forestry as the state’s second-largest manufacturing industry. The state has 16 million acres of forestland, and 54 percent of those are privately owned. The number of acres of forest land has increased by 640,000 since 1985. Overall, the industry employs about 74,000 people at 1,292 wood-product companies.

Each year, Wisconsin’s forestry industry generates $20 billion per year in shipments and another $15 billion indirectly. Wisconsin wood exports increased 3.8 percent from $201 million in 2012 to $208 million in 2014. The Badger State also ranked No. 16 in the nation for export of lumber and logs in 2014.

Paper is a significant contributor to the state’s economy. Wisconsin has been the top papermaking state in the nation for the last 50 years.

Innovation Grows on Trees

Innovative wood and fiber utilization research is taking place right here in Wisconsin.

Established in Madison in 1910, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory is the only federally funded wood utilization research lab in the U.S. Its scientists work to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of forest resources. The findings help sustain forests, economy and quality of life.

For almost 100 years, the lab’s mission has been to use wood resources wisely and efficiently, while also keeping forests healthy.

The lab got its start preserving railroad ties, but now scientists venture into research focusing on issues in nanotechnology and environmental sustainability. They’ve found ways to use wood for everything from bridges and trail structures to paneling, sheathing and furniture to advanced composites and renewable biofuels.

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Some research achievements in the lab’s earlier days included reducing timber demand for railroad ties by 75 percent through preservatives research and wood frame technology used in over 90 percent of U.S. homes.

Learn more about the Forest Products Laboratory at


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