A new analysis of Kentucky’s forest industry estimates that related businesses contributed nearly $13 billion to the state’s economy this year.

The analysis by the University of Kentucky found that about half of the state’s total acreage is forested…about 12.5 million acres. And for both 2012 and 2013, Kentucky’s forest industry earnings—including logging, sawmilling, paper, and manufacturing goods like cabinets—have exceeded analysts’ expectations.

Jeffrey Stringer is a professor with UK’s Department of Forestry. He says the industry’s future seems bright.

“All indicators are from the economy, the growing economy, the stabilization in housing starts, that we expect to see some increases next year as well,” he said.

The only area that’s in decline is paper processing, where paper is being made into things like cups and envelopes. Consumption of those types of paper goods is down nationwide.

And the data indicates that growth could continue.

“Our growth is about twice that of removals,” Stringer said. “So right now at our current level of harvesting, at our current level of forest industry, at our current level of growth, we are growing way more than we are removing.”

The state and federal forest agencies collect data about the forests every year, but if it ever seems that the resources are in danger of being over-logged, it would take a policy change to help protect them.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's News Director.