Forestry in South Carolina is a vital component of the state’s economic well-being, contributing over $17 billion to the economy and providing nearly 90,000 jobs. At the same time, the forests of South Carolina face many challenges, ranging from biological threats such as insect and disease attacks to those that are human-caused, such as population growth and wildfires. To help ensure that these issues do not reduce the viability of this crucial resource, the South Carolina Forestry Commission developed a Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy. Utilizing its own foresters as well as other natural resource experts from other organizations, the Commission performed a comprehensive analysis of these challenges and developed strategies to address them.
The South Carolina Forestry Commission is committed to assisting communities in maintaining and improving their urban forests. Trees in the state’s cities and towns perform vital functions in reducing energy consumption, providing clean air and water, and in improving the quality of life for citizens. In addition, the agency administers a vibrant Best Management Practices (BMP) program that helps protect water quality during timber harvests and other activities. The agency also works with other organizations in the state to ensure that air quality is protected, especially as affected by wildfires.
The South Carolina Forestry Commission is responsible for protecting 13.6 million acres from wildfire, a job that is becoming more demanding and complex as the population of the state grows. Not only are the edges of communities encroaching on forestland, but more and more homes and neighborhoods are being built in wildfire-prone areas. In addition to the risk from wildfires, South Carolina’s forests are threatened by numerous forest pathogens, invasive species, and forest pests.
The forests of South Carolina provide a number of economic and societal benefits such as manufacturing, employment, recreation, aesthetics, and environmental protection. Demands on our forest resources, as well as threats to the future status of our working forests, are as great as at any time in recent history. South Carolina is experiencing significant change in the management and use of our woodlands. Population growth, ownership changes, residential development, non-consumptive demands, and the presence or absence of markets for our forest products will have considerable effects on the future of South Carolina’s forests.