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Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 11:30am

Timber Industry Shows Growth

Georgia's timber industry is showing signs of improvement after a slump brought on by the collapsing housing market.

But the revival hasn't yet arrived in all areas of the state's $15 billion forestry industry.

Georgia timber industry payrolls peaked at 68,000 jobs before the housing collapse.

Construction and timber are closely tied.

So now the number of industry jobs is rising from its recession low of 43,000.

And Nathan McClure of Georgia's Forestry Commission says lumber mills are charging more for wood.

"Lumber prices actually have grown," McClure says. "In 2012, they grew to a higher level. And they remain in that fairly high level this year. And I think a lot of that is spawned by the increases in housing starts."

But forestry consultant Blake Sullivan says it's still not a total comeback.

"The price increases that lumber has garnered in the new market have not translated back to the landowners who are growing the trees quite yet," Sullivan says. "And that's just because we've got such a built up amount of trees that are out there that have not been used over the past five years."

A Canadian company's plans to invest in Thomaston, Baxley and Nunez lumber mills also is seen as a sign of a potential rebound.

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