Study Finds S.C. Natural Resources Contribute $30 Billion to Economy

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Blessed with incredible natural bounty and beauty, South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state’s economy, according to a recently completed study.

The 2009 study, "Underappreciated Assets: The Economic Impact of South Carolina’s Natural Resources" by the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, finds that well- managed natural resources are essential for economic development. The Moore School study documents that economic activities tied to South Carolina's natural resources base (excluding agriculture) sustain $30 billion in annual value for the state and support 230,000 jobs.

"While it is hard to put a value on all the ways natural resources contribute to South Carolina's economic development, it can be clearly shown that they support thousands of jobs, millions in income, and a permanent base for economic development that should last forever," said Dr. Douglas P. Woodward and Dr. Paulo Guimaraes, economists in the school’s Division of Research who conducted the study.

"This economic impact study identifies how critical natural resources are to our State's economy and standard of living. It is incumbent on all of our citizens to realize the important part they can play in maintaining, protecting, and enhancing our forest, lakes and fields. The responsibility for good management lies not only with our various agencies and businesses but is even more dependent on the individual. This is where we live and these are the assets we should protect for the benefit of our present and future generations," added Emmett I. Davis, chairman, South Carolina Natural Resources Society.

This comprehensive report is the first of its kind and documents the economic impact of activities dependent on our natural resources, such as wildlife related outdoor recreation (i.e. hunting, fishing, boating, wildlife watching), resource based tourism, forestry, mining, boat manufacturing and commercial fishing. Research results reveal an astonishing impact on sustained employment and the state’s economy.

"Access to abundant recreation opportunities and natural assets plays an important role in economic growth and quality of life at the local, regional and state levels, so protection and enhancement of our natural resources can and should be part of our overall economic development strategy," said John Frampton, director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which initiated the study. "For these reasons, the state’s natural resources should be at the center of local and regional economic development policy."

For instance, visitors and local residents take advantage of South Carolina's most famous recreational asset—its sandy beaches and ocean surf, generating about $3.5 billion annually and supporting 81,000 jobs. Fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing contribute almost $2.2 billion annually to South Carolina’s economy and support nearly 59,000 jobs, while the state’s forestry industry exports more than $1 billion in forest products, supporting more than 83,000 jobs.

Frampton said a healthy natural environment is also a key factor for human health. "People benefit considerably from contact with nature," he said. "So preserving natural resources, in addition to being a necessary part of smart economic development strategy, should also be a key part of the state’s public health strategy as well."

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.


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