By Jeff Bradley
Manager, Forestry & Wood Products Policy
Every day is Earth Day at AF&PA!
The paper products industry’s raw material comes from a renewable resource: trees.
Beyond providing the wood that is used to make so many useful products that people depend on every day, working forests—forests that are actively managed for a variety of purposes—are rich ecosystems that supply many other benefits:
Working forests clean the air we breathe. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to sugars used for their growth. In the process, carbon is sequestered by the tree and oxygen is released as a byproduct.
Working forests provide clean water. Rain falls on forests, where it is purified, stored and released to aquifers, which serve local communities. Nearly one-third of U.S. drinking water comes from forested land.
Working forests provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. U.S. forestlands can be home to deer, bats, wild turkeys, grouse, rabbits, red-tailed hawks, moose, bears and bobcats.
Working forests support biodiversity. Forests are home to the majority of terrestrial species—plants, animals and micro-organisms found on land. Biodiverse ecosystems allow species to interact with one another, enabling them to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain ecosystem functions.
In the U.S., privately-owned forests supply over 90 percent of the wood harvested to make paper and wood products.
Through sustainable forest management, tree farmers harvest and replant trees responsibly, taking into consideration wildlife, diversity of plant species and forests’ ability to create watersheds and sequester carbon.
In some areas, forests are replacing agricultural lands, expanding forest cover: There are 20 percent more trees in the U.S. today than there were on the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.
Demand for paper and wood products supports these forests. Tree farmers are able to make an income by harvesting trees, encouraging them to keep their forests as forests by replanting trees.
Using less paper and wood products decreases the incentive to replant after harvest and keep land in forests and increases the likelihood they will be turned into other land uses like parking lots or cornfields.
So, this Earth Day, and every day, use paper and wood products with pride!