Hardwood Chip Export Mills in Arkansas - Implications for SustainabilityThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Abstract - Two new hardwood chip export mills (HCEM’s) recently began operating in west-central Arkansas,and a third is planned. Together,they will require 1.1 million tons of nonhickory hardwood roundwood annually, primarily from the nonindustrial private sector. Overall, total physical and operable growth surpluses could support the new sector, but purchasable surpluses are barely adequate now and may be less than adequate by 2005. The HCEM’s will generate about 630 direct and indirect jobs and $16.75 million in yearly wages and stumpage payments. However,if all of the new demand is met by unsightly harvesting methods, tourism-related job losses after 15 years could offset HCEM-generated employment. Because HCEM’s will increase competition for hardwood, some small sawmills may go out of business, although the turnover of small sawmills was high even before HCEM’s entered the market.The HCEM market for small hardwoods is less than ideal, but these mills can process "rough" and "rotten" trees. HCEM harvesting is generally not good forestry; to date, it has tended to take the best trees and leave the worst.This could improve if landowners were better informed and willing to reinvest following harvest. The effects of HCEM’s on Arkansas hardwood forests as a whole are not expected to be great. Although protection of soils and water quality has been inconsistent, the new sector appears to be committed to provide such protection on lands they harvest. The authors present six recommendations designed to promote a positive effect of new sector operations on the sustainability of timber resources and other forest values.