A healthy forest products industry goes hand-in-hand with healthy forests. Why? Without a market for sustainably grown wood, many landowners would convert their land to development
for use as parking lots, subdivisions or agriculture. Demand for forest products means continued demand for and replanting of trees.
Today, American forests are strong. One-third of the U.S. is forested and there are 20 percent more trees than there were nearly 50 years ago - totaling 766 million acres. And, according to the U.S. Forest Service,
more than one billion trees are planted in the United States each year.
More than half of U.S. forestlands are privately owned and carefully managed by about 11 million forest owners who supply 90 percent of the wood to make forest products. Demand for forest
products means continued demand for trees, which encourages forest landowners to grow and replant to ensure forests remain forests – even in places where there are no trees now. The forest products industry replants and grows twice as many trees
as are harvested.
U.S. forest products manufacturers take unprecedented steps to promote and implement sustainable forest management best practices - it is even a condition of AF&PA membership. In 2018, AF&PA members procured 99 percent of the total wood fiber
used for products through a Certified Fiber Sourcing Program. By requiring our wood fiber is sustainably sourced, our members are investing in the future of forests and ensuring they will be plentiful for future generations.
Still, our forests are increasingly at risk – vulnerable to drought, insect infestation and disease, to extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods and catastrophic wildfire. Sustainable forest management on both private and public forest
land is critical for the future of our nation’s forests.
Keeping Forests as Forests
Forest products we use every day and rely on are all around us: building materials, journals, paper towels, medicine boxes, diapers, sports equipment and more. Responsible and sustainable forest management as well as demand for these products helps
keep forests as forests.
We’ve answered some frequently asked questions about forest management and forest products.
What is forestry and what do foresters do?
Forestry is the art and science of understanding, managing and caring for trees and forests. In addition to trees, forestry also includes caring about water and air, animals in the forest, and diseases and pests that can harm trees. Foresters work in
many different areas of the forest and forest products industry. They help manage forests, plan and run projects like tree replanting, seedling growth and helping to care for trees to prevent wildfire, disease and infestation.
What products come from forests?
Most forest products are things you use every day like journal paper, paper towels and tissues, boxes that protect food like cereal, cartons that protect your milk and juice – even your medicine is protected in paper packages. Products are also
less obvious like the lumber used to build your house and the pulp in a baby’s diaper. Wood pulp also is used in medical supplies like surgical masks.
Is it ok to use products made from trees?
Yes. Using forest products helps keep forests as forests. Continued demand and use of things like lumber, paper towels, notebook paper,
boxes that transport your online order or pizza delivery, paper grocery bags, packaging that protects food, medicine, cosmetics and more helps ensure landowners continue to replant trees and keep their land as forests.
Do you use every part of the tree?
Yes. No part of the tree goes to waste. The trunk is where high-quality wood comes from to make special items like furniture, doors and flooring. As you move up the tree trunk, we get more quality wood that is used to make lumber for houses, cabinets,
floors, and furniture. This wood is also used to make toys and sports equipment like baseball bats. And we use the top of the tree and branches to make wood pulp which makes paper products like writing paper, paper bags, paper packages, tissues and
paper towels and even diapers. Tree bark, resins and gums are used to make medicines and special products. The remaining leftovers, what we call biomass, like tiny wood chips and scraps are used to generate power in our mills.
Are forest products recyclable?
Many forest products are readily recyclable in curbside and drop-off programs throughout the United States. Paper-based products like paper, mail, pizza, cereal and cardboard boxes, the cardboard insert in your toilet paper rolls are recyclable. And paper
mills want your paper products back so they can make new and innovative products. When you recycle, the recycling truck takes your recyclables to a facility where they’re sorted. Paper, like your cereal boxes or paper grocery bags, is then sent
to the paper mill where we start the process over for making a new product. Paper can be recycled at least seven times.
Are forest products made in the U.S.A.?
Yes. There are more than 950,000 people who work in the forest products industry in the United States. Paper mills across the country make all sorts of things like pizza boxes, e-commerce boxes,
frozen food packaging, office paper, pulp that goes into hygiene products, diapers and surgical masks. It’s not just the people who make forest and paper products. One-third of the United States is forested and more than half, 56 percent, of
that land is privately owned.