Two maps that show the promise of Maine’s forest industry

Two maps make consultant Eric Kingsley optimistic about the future of Maine’s forest products industry.

The first shows the world’s forests. The second shows the lights of the world at night.

“There’s one spot and only one spot — and we’re part of it — where forests and markets are on top of each other,” Kingsley said during a forum about building a new bio-based economy in the state. “That is a spectacular structural advantage that we had previously utilized, have forgot about — I think — and it’s time for us to re-utilize that.”

Global tree cover estimates from 2000 show the world’s densest forests. Via the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences.

Using nighttime light density as a proxy for industrialized parts of the world that consume more goods, the Eastern United States stands out.

In the short-term, Kingsley said he expects that the state’s forest products industry will continue to bleed jobs and markets for its wood products. But the long-term holds the promise of a range of new products from wood fiber, including plastics, fuel and sugars.

[As paper mills die, here’s how Maine’s loggers hope to survive]

In a 1948 talk by John Hinman, then president of International Paper, Kingsley said the paper executive predicted that the forest product and chemical industries would align, churning out a wide array of chemicals from wood.

“I’d like to think that he was just a little ahead of his time and that this is our decade,” Kingsley said.



Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.