By Lon Tegels
College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Arkansas at Monticello
Arkansas Forest Resources Center
U of A System Division of Agriculture
• Trees Are Vital to Bradley County Economy
• Growers Could be Collecting Carbon Credits
• Urban Forestry provides Community Value
Warren, Arkansas — The Arkansas Center for Forest Business has built a database full of Arkansas forest facts. The newly created center wants to share their statistics with economic decision makers and civic groups. This week Dr. Matthew Pelkki, Director of the ACFB, Dr. Sagar Chhetri, postdoctoral economist and Ana Gutierrez, research associate with the Center appeared before the Bradley County Economic Development Office at the invitation of BCEDC chairperson Bob Moore. The trio presented with collective information and hard numbers regarding forest and forest industry economic contributions in Bradley County and then answered question from the group. The presentation provided data that support what many already know – the value of the wood industry to Bradley County is inescapable.
Pelkki told the Board, “Bradley county’s economy is roughly 20 times more dependent on forestry than the national average and 5 times more than the state average.” Pelkki added, “The average employee compensation for forest industry workers is $58,438, which is 129% of the county average. One of every five jobs in Bradley County is dependent on the forest products industry. Many of the forest facts listed county by county is available on the ACFB website, https://www.uamont.edu/academics/CFANR/acfb_factsheets.html
Ana Gutierrez, a research associate in the Center, described carbon markets available to forest landowners in Bradley County. Gutierrez told members of the Bradley EDC that growers aren’t taking full advantage of their resources. Gutierrez said, “94% of the 367,901 acres of forest land in Bradley County are privately owned and could be selling carbon credits. Some carbon markets, however, require extremely long contracts of 40 to 100 years, and may not be appropriate for southern tree farmers.” The Center is monitoring and learning about these developing markets in order to help landowners capture this value.
When the forestry industry is mentioned, most people think of timber, logging and lumber. There is another element of forestry that often is overlooked. Dr. Sagar Chhetri, a postdoctoral economist with the Center presented on the value of Warren’s urban forests.
Chhetri told the Bradley decision makers that trees can make a huge difference to the land values in a community. Chhetri said, “Urban trees and forests are known to improve property values, but we don’t harvest them for timber. But they still contribute value to the community in other ways. For example, annually the forests in the city of Warren remove the amount of carbon dioxide (a major climate change gas) that is emitted by 1620 automobiles.” He said “Urban trees provide clean water for 166 people each year, and they remove air pollutants that would cost nearly $400,000 a year to remove by other methods. The forests of Warren sequester 2,233 tons of carbon annually, which on the current carbon market could be worth as much as $381,874 per year.”
The Arkansas Center for Forest Business was funded by the Arkansas Legislature in 2021. Pelkki has been making presentations about forestry for more than 20 years to economic agencies and civic services organizations. The Arkansas Center for Forest Business can customize their presentation based on their the most up-to-date information on Arkansas’s forests. Economic agencies and civic service groups interested in booking the ACFB to make a presentation can do so by e-mailing Pelkki at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 870-460-1949. The center is located at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 110 University, Monticello, Arkansas 71656.
For more information, contact:
Lon Tegels, Public Relations Contact
The University of Arkansas at Monticello
(870) 460-1852 or 419-303-4223