In 1971, the 23rd General Assembly of the European Confederation of Agriculture gave birth to the idea that we should designate one day to celebrate the world’s forests and all that they offer for “protection, production, and recreation.” The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation agreed that this could help grow public awareness of forests worldwide and officially made March 21 of each year ‘World Forestry Day.’
In honor of World Forestry Day, our partner ShadeFund, along with The Conservation Fund, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Forest Guild, Dovetail Partners, and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, have put together this rather awesome list of 24 ways that forestry improves our lives. I encourage you to “like” ShadeFund’s Facebook page as a big thanks for orchestrating this effort!
1. Produces products that are both safe and sturdy
With proper design and maintenance, wood products are some of the most durable and safe on the market. Resistant in instances of high humidity, tough to break, and minimally processed, wood surpasses many other raw materials as the safest and sturdiest choice for everything from our homes to our children’s toys.
2. Produces products that can be recycled and are also biodegradable, and thus do not clog our landfills for generations
3. Helps improve air quality
Better air quality means better health and lower spending on healthcare. Tree cover in Washington, DC saves $51 million in healthcare costs each year.
4. Helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere
- Carbon is stored in the forest as trees grow.
- Carbon is also stored in the wood products we use in our homes and businesses.
- Wood building materials release less carbon into the atmosphere during production than other materials such as concrete, steel and glass
- See how the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ Softwood Lumber Check-off Program will promote messages like these, and more, to increase acceptance and use of softwood lumber.
5. Provides places to visit and opportunities for outdoor recreation
- Forest management helps keep our parks fun and safe and enhances recreation opportunities.
- Forestry operations are crucial in establishing and managing recreational opportunities from trails to camp grounds.
6. Provides beautiful landscapes and scenic vistas
Healthy forests and forested landscapes are some of the most beautiful places to visit. Whether you seek to find spring flowers or take a tour of fall colors, forestry provides opportunities to view and enjoy the beauty of nature.
7. Provides wildlife habitat and promotes biodiversity
- Forestry supports diverse wildlife habitat and healthy wildlife populations.
- Forestry supports opportunities for hunting, wildlife viewing, bird watching and other types of outdoor recreation.
- Forests managed at a moderate or low intensity for a wide variety of goods, services, and natural values, not unlike the New England “working forest” concept, provide habitat primarily as a function of being maintained in forestland use. These lands, both public and private, encompass the majority of the forest area of the U.S. and, with the broad diversity of management approaches on individual tracts of varying size, provide an accompanying diversity of habitats in terms of age, successional stage, vegetative composition, climate and landform. Read more about this in the Pinchot Institute for Conservation’s report titled ‘Sustainable Forestry and Biodiversity Conservation: Toward a New Consensus.’
8. Provides food and other culturally important products
Forestry supports the production of important food crops, including fruits, nuts, and special products like maple syrup. Forestry supports culturally important products such as birch bark crafting, basket weaving and medicinal plant collecting. Read an article on basket making (scroll to p. 10).
9. Employs thousands of people
Sustainable forestry can be used to address chronic rural poverty in developing countries – and prevent deforestation.
- Ecomadera: Market strategies for sustainable forestry
- [Video] U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Initiative: Forest Investment Zones
10. Offers a source of renewable energy
The branches and tops left after a timber harvest provide a low-carbon, domestic energy source that can help move us towards a renewable energy economy
11. Makes clean and safe water more available and utilities cheaper
There are clear linkages between water quality and the cost of water treatment. A number of studies show measurable, statistically significant changes in the cost of water treatment as a result of source water quality degradation.
- Forests and drinking water
- [Video] U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities – Healthy watersheds through healthy forests
12. Protects water quality and improves soil quality, particularly on trails and roads during management activities.
Guidelines have been developed for removal of woody biomass that protect water quality and other important forest conditions.
- [Report] Energy from Woody Biomass: A Review of Harvesting Guidelines and a Discussion of Related Challenges
- [Report] Revised Assessment of Biomass Harvesting and Retention Guidelines
13. Cools climate
The energy consumption linked to wood products manufacturing is low compared to energy requirements for competing products such as steel and concrete. Carbon emissions are similarly lower.
14. Helps reduce urban heat islands
- Trees and forestry are important in all of our communities. Urban forestry supports the care and responsible use of our urban forests. Urban forests are important because of their size and scope, their impact on local economies, and the many social and environmental benefits they provide, due in large part to their proximity to people. According to the U.S. Forest Service, urban trees in the contiguous U.S. account for nearly one-quarter of the nation’s total tree canopy cover—approximately 74 billion trees.
- Urban forestry—sometimes referred to as urban forest management—is the planning and management of trees, forests, and related vegetation within communities to create and add value. Throughout the past two centuries in the U.S., the focus of urban forestry has shifted from one of beautification to one that includes the environmental, conservation, economic and social benefits of community trees and urban forests.
- Read Dovetail Partners’ report – Urban Forestry: A Revolving Discipline.
15. Provides a tool for restoring fire adapted forests
- Millions of acres of western forests have become unhealthy because of a century of fire suppression.
- Collaborative forestry provides a way to restore these forest to historic conditions.
- Read about a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program project in the Cibola National Forest.
16. Helps protect our communities from wildfire and ensures that they do not become out of control
Forestry operations provide the knowledge and economic drivers to reduce the threat of wildfire around communities in fire adapted forests.
17. Offers tools for addressing invasive pests and pathogens that threat our forests
Unfortunately, exotic attackers from gypsy moth to sudden oak death threaten our forests, and forestry offers tools to respond to these invaders.
18. Is part of vibrant rural communities
Forestry is part of the tradition and future of rural communities across the country.
19. Helps conserve forestland and protects sensitive areas
Through working forest conservation easements, land owners can ensure their land remains as forest while still providing income and forest products.
20. Finds creative uses for wood affected by pests and disease
Forestry allows for the recycling and creation of one of-a-kind wood products from trees that must be removed due to diseases and pests, such as the emerald ash borer. Small businesses like City Bench utilize these diseased trees to make one-of-a-kind wood furniture.
21. Allows for the continued growth and regeneration of healthy forests, keeping forests as forests
22. Protects utilities from becoming disconnected
Forestry prevents damage during storms so power and utilities do not become disconnected.
23. Provides tools to respond to a changing climate
The changing climate is already altering where trees grow best and forestry gives us tools for adapting to new climate realities. Read the report: Climate Change, Carbon, and the Forests of the Northeast.
24. Helps us rebuild after natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes
See what Wood for Haiti is doing to build natural disaster-resistant wood homes for the millions of Haitians left homeless after a massive, January 12, 2010 earthquake.