Invested in sustainability

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It should go without saying that the wood product industry, specifically, and agriculture in general are Western Tidewater’s most important enterprises. With the stream of revenue and number of jobs the wood industry provides to those in Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton, it is — quite simply — the lifeblood of this region.

Without this line of business, it’s not too far fetched to imagine a ghost town. You don’t have to look a great distance to see the abandoned mining towns that are scattered across the neighboring state of West Virginia to see what can happen to a locality so reliant on one industry.

We at The Tidewater News sincerely hope that this industry is sustainable for an indefinite amount of time, and the numbers presented in last Sunday’s edition show that it is. We commend those companies that promote and support reforestation efforts by paying a voluntary tax to the Virginia Department of Forestry’s extension service. We applaud them for their annual certifications and long-standing commitment to sustainability practices. If this continues, the wood product industry will remain viable until the end of time.

At the end of the day, all parties involved have a vested interest in keeping the industry from perishing. However, there are several variables that remain unknown moving forward. This includes the question of how hardwoods are being harvested and the potential for an increase in demand of wood products. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture just awarded more than $9 million to 23 states, including Virginia, to expand and accelerate the wood market.

The numbers presented in last Sunday’s paper only took into account the use of pines at a constant pace. We can’t answer whether the practice is sustainable if the industry is heightened; that’s a question to which only those within the field can reply.