© 2021 Working Forests
Our working forests sustain the 3rd largest manufacturing sector in Washington and form the foundation of the timber industry that supports more than 101,000 workers and generates $5.5 billion in wages annually. See how many jobs are in your county and learn more at
Over half the state is forested, with nearly 23 million acres of forested lands. About 47% of the forested land is working, or providing jobs and economic value to support rural communities from timber growing and harvesting operations. The rest of the forest, 53% is restricted from harvesting and set aside in conservation areas, parks and wilderness designations.
According to the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the majority of biomass energy is produced from wood and wood wastes. See Temperate Forest Foundation. Biomass for Energy & Forest Fuel Reduction. Eco-Link, 13:3. Today, woody biomass is the #2 source of renewable energy in the country, second only to hydropower as a renewable energy solution, and ranking ahead of wind and solar energy. See: Aguilar, F. Wood energy in developed economies: An overlooked renewable. Resources for the Future, pg. 188.
Each year forest landowners in Washington plant an average of 52 million tree seedlings in areas that have been harvested. On average, that’s three seedlings planted by hand for every one tree removed. Where do these 52 million tree seedlings come from? Nearly all come from tree nurseries right here in Washington. New forests are grown from seed collected from cones within the same seed zone or region that has the distinctive environmental conditions for a particular tree. While the first seed zone maps were published in 1966, a lot of new information has been incorporated since then.
On average, that’s three seedlings planted by hand for every one tree removed. Private landowners take a proactive approach, not only to reach the state requirement of reforestation within three years of harvesting an area, but to ensure growth of desirable tree species, to allow for proper spacing between the planted trees, and to restore wildlife habitat.
Washington’s forests are growing at twice the rate as they are harvested providing benefits for fish, water, wildlife and people too from harvested wood products. Find out more here: USDA Forest Resources of the United States, 2012 GTR WO-91, Table 36, Oct. 2014
Modern, scientific forestry is sustainable and renewable. Trees are harvested then replanted, on average there are 52 million trees planted each year. This cycle of harvesting and replanting stores carbon–not only in living trees in the forest, but in finished wood products such as lumber and furniture. Washington’s forests and harvested wood products absorb and store 28% of the state’s total emissions. See the details at Washington Department of Ecology. 2007. Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Reference Case Projections, 1990-2020. Center for Climate Strategies, pgs. ES-5 and I-3.