Maine has the largest, contiguous, privately owned working forest in the US. The state is 89% forested, and 12.3 million green ton equivalents were harvested in 2017. (Photo by Joe Anastasi)

The New Forest Economy

In addition to traditional pulp, paper and lumber, advances in the sector are shaping the marketplace and the industry is diversifying. Medical and technical products made from nanocellulose are one example as the state is also ideally positioned with opportunities in:

  • Cross-laminated timber and advanced building materials
  • Packaging and high-tech papers
  • Biochemicals and biofuels
  • Bioplastic composites
  • Textiles

Diverse Companies in Maine’s Forest Products Industry

One of the world’s leading paper product manufacturers and wholly owned Illinois-based subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited, ND Paper purchased mills in Rumford and Old Town in 2018.  The purchase has given new life to the mill in Rumford and its 650 employees. The mill continues to diversify its products in growing markets like gift wrap, corporate periodicals, and labels for cans, bottles and deli containers.  Shuttered since 2015, the Old Town mill with 130 jobs went back online this summer.  This significant investment earned ND Paper the 2019 Foreign Investor of the Year award from MITC.

Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited operates nine mills and 39 machines worldwide with total global annual production capacity of more than 14 million tons. ND Paper operates four pulp and paper mills in the U.S.  ND Paper and its parent company are committed to the environment and is implementing processes to ensure every aspect of production, from sourcing to manufacturing to distribution, is environmentally friendly.

Headquartered in South Africa, Sappi is a global market leader in converting wood fiber into superior products with a strong presence in Maine.  The Westbrook Technology Center houses approximately 50 technicians, engineers and scientists dedicated to discovering and implementing new products, optimizing current product quality, and improving product costs.  They have secured more than 250 patents that contribute to the company’s global competitive edge.  Sappi also has state-of-the-art pulp and paper mills in Westbrook and Skowhegan.  The company received MITC’s Foreign Investor of the Year award in 2011.


“The Pine Tree State sure has a lot of trees – in fact, about 90 percent of Maine is forested, the highest percentage of any state. But what it has more of is innovation…we see Maine as a leader among Northern states…”
Biofuels Digest, June 2018

Biobased Maine
Trade association accelerating Maine’s biobased manufacturing industry by assisting its members with research and development, investment attraction, and business development.

Spurred by paper mill closings and the loss of thousands of jobs, industry stakeholders came together to craft a research-based vision to identify opportunities given industry advances and new product developments. This  collaboration known as FOR Maine – Forest Opportunity Roadmap – is being facilitated by the Maine Development Foundation.  FOR is creating a diverse industry blueprint that includes traditional as well as new wood-based products such as CLT, tall wood buildings, packaging materials, high-tech papers, biochemicals, bioplastics, biocomposites, biofuels and nanomaterials.

Maine Technology Institute
MTI offers funding and programs that help companies accelerate progress to the market for new products, technologies and processes, leverage additional private and public investment, and ultimately, expand their economic impact.

Research & Education

Research facilities, training, and education organizations collaborate with industry to provide a pipeline of workers from labs to logging camps

The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture at the University of Maine is one of the most respected forestry programs in North America.  The College’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute is tasked with creating and commercializing new bioproducts such as chemicals and fuels.  Research is also conducted on the production and transformation of wood composites as well as pulp and paper.  The University’s Advanced Materials and Composites Center is comprised of 13 integrated laboratories that develop and test durable, lightweight, corrosion-resistant materials including cross laminated timber (CLT) and nanocellulose.  The Technology Research Center can produce small scale manufacturing while the Process Development Center houses a state-of-the art pilot plant producing cellulose.

Maine Quality Centers Program funds customized workforce training delivered through Maine’s community college system. One of these is a collaboration with the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, which offers a 12-week certificate program on the highly technical equipment used in today’s timber harvesting operations.

The Certified Logging Professional certification was established in 1991 to address the high accident rate.  It continues to evolve with the industry and provides a means for continued professional development.