How Competitive is Minnesota’s Forest Products Industry? Insights from a new MFRC Report

In December 2014 the Minnesota Forest Resources Council released a new report on the global competitiveness of Minnesota’s forest products industry.  The executive summary is below.  Download the complete report here: Report on the Competitiveness of Minnesota’s Primary Forest Products Industry.

Report on the Competitiveness of Minnesota’s Primary Forest Products Industry: Executive Summary

Minnesota’s primary forest products industry is vital to state’s economy and to the health of the state’s forests. The economic downturn that started in 2008 hurt the competitive position of Minnesota’s  primary forest products industry, and concern about the competitiveness of the industry lingers. To address this concern, the DNR Commissioner asked the Minnesota Forest Resources Council to assess Minnesota’s forest-based economy and compare it with other states and countries. The Commissioner asked the Council to specifically look at permitting and environmental review, vehicle weight limits, taxation, energy costs and other metrics.Competitiveness Report - Final 11.26

In general, Minnesota’s forests are aging and declining rapidly in terms of growth and quality. Harvesting has declined steadily over the past decade, despite development opportunities cultivated from new forest-based products. The result is diminished forest health, productivity and wildlife habitat, compounded by environmental review processes that have slowed new investment. Uncertainties related to climate change, invasive species and threats to summer harvest increase these challenges. All put a strain on the competitiveness of Minnesota’s primary forest products industry.

This report offers numerous recommendations to help improve the competitiveness of Minnesota’s primary forest products industry. No single recommendation on its own will make a significant difference. It is the combination of recommendations, which are aimed at improving forest health, increasing the availability of quality wood and improving the business environment in which the industry and all its affiliated constituents operate, that will start bending the curve toward a more competitive position.

Table 1 provides a summary of the competitive position of Minnesota’s forest products industry relative to other states and countries across several key factors. The recommendations in the report are listed following the table. Each of the factors, and the related recommendations, are explained in more detail in the report.

Download the complete report here: Report on the Competitiveness of Minnesota’s Primary Forest Products Industry.

Matt works on issues related to forest ecosystem health. He's based in St. Paul.

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