Winning the PR Battle Starts One Conversation at a Time

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This article was taken from the Pallet Profile published on August 16, 2013. It was written by Chaille Brindley.

For the record, trees are good and cutting them down is good too if you use them and follow responsible forestry practices.

Noted forestry scientist, Dr. Jim Bowyer, has conducted research through the years on public perception as well as industry knowledge about the environmental impacts of forest products and U.S. forestry practices. What he has found is that a very high percentage of college students are severely misinformed about the environmental impacts of timber harvesting and the wood products industry. As a result, they tend to harbor strong resentment toward wood products. One reason is that many college students believe the state of forests in the country is much worse than it actually is. Also, they tend to believe that unless a tress is cut down, it will live for a lot longer on its own than it actually will.

Tree and Forestry Facts for U.S. Wood Products Industry
• Forest products are important to the U.S. economy. Private, working forests support 2.5 million jobs, $235 billion in annual sales, $87 billion in payroll, $4.4 billion in state income and severance taxes and $102 billion to the GDP.
• We are not running out of trees – one-third of the United States is forested – 751 million acres. Privately-owned forests supply 91% of the wood harvested in the U.S. State, tribal forests supply approximately 6% and federal forests supply only 2% of the wood used by the forest products industry.
• More than 56% of the U.S. forests are privately owned, much of it by family forest owners who manage their lands to provide value to future generations.
• A single tree can absorb more than 10 pounds of CO2 each year. In the U.S., forests and forest products store enough carbon each year to offset approximately 10% of the nations CO2 emissions.
• The U.S. timber industry largely practices responsible forestry practices. 20% of timberland in the U.S. is certified to reputable third-party verified systems. All AF&PA members who own forestland conform to sustainable forest management programs, and those who source wood fiber from the forest comply with the sustainable procurement principles.
• For the past 100 years, total forest area has been stable and grew by 2 million acres from 2000 to 2005.

Source: American Forest & Paper Association

Educational Resources
http://www.forestinfo.org/ – has a quiz, fact sheets and information for teachers and industry.
http://evergreenmagazine.com/ – contains extensive information about forestry issues and forestry management.
http://ecosense.me/ – website of Dr. Patrick Moore, a former Greenpeace co-founder who has become a supporter of trees and the forest products industry.
http://www.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/treefact.htm – offers basic facts on trees.
http://oregonforests.org/ – provides extensive information for school teachers and short videos although the information focuses on Oregon statistics.

Myth: We only have 5% of the original ancient forests left that once covered the Pacific Northwest in the pre-European settlement era.
Fact: this figure wrongly assumes that the coastal Northwest was covered with old trees before the arrival of settlers from the East. According to U.S. government studies, no more than a third of the region’s forest was covered with old-growth trees at any time. Natural wildfires and fires set by Native Americans, routinely cleared vast swaths of old forests.

Myth: Congress authorized salvage logging on federal lands of dead and dying timber that ignores environmental safeguards.
Fact: Salvage logging cannot proceed without an approved environment assessment as required under the national Environmental Policy Act and a biological evaluation as required under the Endangered Species Act. Moreover, a salvage sale can be stopped at any time – by a district ranger up to the Secretary – until the point that the sale is advertized.

Myth: We’re running out of trees.
Fact: We have more trees today than we had in 1970, on the first Earth day – even more than we had 70 years ago. For example, in the middle of the last century Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut were about 35% forested; today they are 59%.

Myth: We’re running out of old growth trees in our ancient forests.
Fact: in the U.S. today, there are 13.2 million acres of old growth, i.e. large trees 200 years of age or older. The vast majority of these trees-comprising an area the size of New Jersey and Massachusetts combined- will remain in their natural condition and will never be harvested due to legal and regulatory prohibitions on logging, road building and even fire fighting.

Myth: Clear cutting, the practice of harvesting most trees in a given are, destroys the forest.
Fact: Clear cutting is a sound practice that benefits future forests. By mimicking natural wildfires, clear cutting is widely recognized by forest scientists and even by conservation groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund, American Forests, and the Society of American Foresters as an ecologically sound technique for reforesting many softwood species. That’s because, for their survival, conifer seedlings typically require direct sunlight and cannot survive shade.

Myth: A natural forest supports more ecological diversity than a managed forest.
Fact: Managed forests, even those with some clear-cutting, often produce more biodiversity than completely natural forests, according to U.S. Forest Service studies in the Lake States and New England. Even tree farm plantations contain a rich mosaic of plant and animal life.

Myth: Forest management harms all wildlife.
Fact: Forest management can help wildlife. Forest management creates opening that stimulate the growth of food sources-which is the prime reason why forest species such as elk, deer, turkey and antelope are far more plentiful today than earlier in the century. Sustainable Forestry guidelines promulgated by the American Forest & Paper Association require the promotion of habitat diversity and the conservation of plant and animal populations on members’ forest land.

Myth: more paper recycling will prevent the use of “virgin” wood from harvested trees.
Fact: Even if we could recycle 100% of our used paper, we would still need “virgin” fiber to replace worn-out recycled fiber and meet the increasing demand for paper products. Recycling extends the use of virgin fiber, but it will not replace it. Even so, today well over half of all fiber used in paper products comes from recycled paper and from wood waste from sawmills. Recycled wood is another promising source of fiber.

Source: The Evergreen Foundation

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