The logging sector is essential for sustainable forest management and the smooth functioning of fiber markets that account for a sizable portion of the region's economy. As primary agents of sustainable forest management, logging firms play three crucial roles:
In 2003 most logging businesses were organized as one-person, owner-operator businesses with no employees. However, given the nature of the sector, we may have missed an important aspect of the labor situation in the 2003 study, the use of subcontractors. For 2010, we found that logging businesses were equally or more likely to use subcontractors than they were to have employees. It also appears that there is a slight shift toward larger businesses. The average number of full-time equivalent employees rose to 2.5 in 2010 from 1.8 in 2003.
Wisconsin loggers are the backbone of the wood products industry, a primary contributor to the Wisconsin economy and the sustainable management of forests in the state. In 2003 the median age of a logging business owner was 46, with most falling in the 35-54 year range. In 2010, we found that business owners had nearly “aged in place” with the median rising to 52 years and most in the 45-64 year range. Notably, the percentage of owners who have spent 30 or more years logging (not necessarily as an owner) in 2010 was nearly double that of 2003.
Many factors affect the profitability of businesses. Understanding which do and which don’t have implications how we structure public policy and how wood-using industries make procurement decisions. Wisconsin logging businesses rated the importance of 11 factors that could affect their profitability during their 2003 and 2010 production years. Respondents in both surveys indicated that all factors were either “somewhat important” or “very important.”
For both 2003 and 2010, loggers were asked to qualitatively assess their company’s profitability. Possible responses ranged from “very poor” to “excellent” with a mid-point indicating “average/broke even” ("good" and "excellent" are combined for analysis).
Wisconsin logging businesses have not experienced much change in terms of the way they harvest and process trees. We compared the harvest systems that respondents used to fell and process timber by their 2003 and 2010 production years. For our analysis, we separated survey respondents into one of four categories based on their use of one or more harvesting technologies.
Over the next 15 weeks we will share the findings from the survey of the logging sector conducted in 2011. Each week will feature a different aspect of the survey findings, with an emphasis on comparing the 2011 data to those collected in 2004. That is, we will compare the 2003 and 2010 production years. After the series, we will move these summaries toward a comprehensive print publication.
Right now, the outline looks like this…
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram published, "Declining number of young loggers worries some in industry", which outlines a key challenge for the logging sector as well as those that depend on it for lumber, pulp, and other fiber. Depending on how many times you acess the paper, you may have to pay for access. It was publiished on 3 March 2013 and reported by Chuck Rupnow.
Loggers are the critical link between forests and wood markets. They are also key actors in implementing sustainable forestry. Their actions drive a multi-billion dollar industry that is the backbone of local communities across Wisconsin. The economic downturn has been tough on markets and mills. At the same time, costs continue to rise for equipment, stumpage, and just about everything else. Loggers across the state and nation have felt this trend. Wisconsin’s logging sector entered the recession under considerable strain.
Best management practices and timber harvesting: the role of social networks in shaping landowner decisions
Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research (on-line only)
Tricia G. Knoot and Mark Rickenbach