As private landowners, many of us often ask ourselves if forest land is still a good investment. After attending the latest University of Georgia Forest Land Investment Conference, I came away with a definite “yes” as the answer to this question.
The following observations are my own comments and based on the many excellent speakers’ presentations.
The conference had over 580 attendees from all over the world. This is a strong indicator of interest in our forest of the U. S. and particularly of the Southeast U. S. It was very evident that lending institutions have interest in loaning money on timberlands as dozens of them were represented.
The interest in Southeastern U. S. timber from Canadian companies continue to be a driving force in the future saw timber market. They are very optimistic with their future projections for wood markets. The continued housing market improvement is big in their projections as well as export markets of wood. 2/3 of the new middle class will be outside of the U. S. and these are the biggest segments of the housing buyers.
The wood pellet market has continued to expand and now offers a huge impact on the use of small timber market for landowners. The Drax Company after completion of their newest wood to energy operation will be the largest user of wood in the world.
In addition to this conference, I recently toured the new Klausner Sawmill near Live Oak, Florida and they are taking wood and sawing lumber. They expect to be using over 250 loads of wood per day within the next 12 months. They are a very efficient and modern mill with very few personnel to run the operations. They are also planning a pellet mill at the site.
These new entries in the market are all concentrating on high efficiency operations to operate their companies. Forest owners have the same opportunity and can maximize production per acre with great management using the right forest professional, the right silviculture, and the right genetics. Great efficiencies will continue to be the winners.
R. Wayne Bell
Chief Operations Officer
International Forest Company