Blogging Logging 11 – Source of timber supply

Various landownership categories contribute to the state’s timber supply. Where a logging business is located has a big impact on which types of lands they harvest from. However, other factors also figure into the decision, including the different expectations that landowners have for loggers (e.g., certified land can have more requirements, but fill an important market niche). In reporting the landownership categories from which loggers harvest timber, we weight all findings by their volume harvested in 2003 and 2010 (as appropriate). Weighting by volume gives a more accurate picture of harvesting as different harvest systems can harvest vastly different amounts in a year (see week 2).

In both 2003 and 2010, logging businesses harvested greater than 45% of their volume from private woodlands and about 25% from County Forests.  The percent volume harvested from corporate lands (e.g., industrial forests and REITs) in 2010 was about half of that reported in 2003, while State Forests accounted for 9% of the volume harvested in 2010 (nearly twice that of 2003). Timberland ownership by category since 2003 is largely unchanged.


Regardless of harvest system, private woodlands are the dominant source of the volume harvested by Wisconsin loggers in 2010, ranging from 46% of volume harvested by multiple length systems to 64% of the chainsaw-based harvest.  County and State Forests account for the next highest percent of volume harvests by cut-to-length and multiple systems (though the latter also harvests nearly similar amounts of volume to their state harvests from corporate lands).  Volumes harvested by feller-buncher systems were primarily from private and County Forests, while chainsaw system volume harvests also included corporate land.


For the next section, we report both unweighted (i.e., by respondent) and volume-weighted results.

Wisconsin logging businesses harvested 74% on their volume on sales they purchased, while 26% was harvested under contract for a mill. When weighted by volume—thus offering a look at how volume across the state is harvested, 29% is harvested under contract (i.e., 71% is purchased by loggers).  Most harvest systems averaged between 25% and 30% of their contracted harvested volumes, with the exception of multiple systems at 16%. When weighted by volume, there was more diversity in harvest percentage by system. For all but the chainsaw-based harvest systems, over 70% was purchased by the logging businesses. These numbers suggest the complexity faced by loggers: not only do they have to locate, most likely bid on, have sufficient capital for purchasing sales, they have to harvest their sites and identify the best outlets to receive their product.

Portion of businesses…


Weighted by volume…


Complete index for this series:


  1. Introduction
  2. Harvest systems & production volumes
  3. Profitability & production capacity
  4. Factors affecting profitability
  5. Business demographics
  6. Employees and contractors
  7. Capital investment
  8. Distance and hauling
  9. Certification
  10. Timber sales
  11. Source of timber supply
  12. Timber products and buyers
  13. Interest in biomass harvesting
  14. Survey methods and response
  15. Summary

Authors: Mark Rickenbach (UW-Madison/Extension) and Melinda Vokoun (UW-Stevens Point) [contact info at links]

The Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, which is now part of the Wisconsin Energy Institute, provided initial funding for 2011 logging sector survey. Additional support was provided through the Renewable Resources Extension Act and the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program, both of the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture. We appreciate the assistance of Tom Steele, Grace Maples, and Sarah Traver in helping bring this project to completion.



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