BECOME AWARE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF FORESTS
April 8, 2012
miss World Forestry Day this year? I did. It was celebrated on March
21, but I feel confident I am not alone in being unaware that the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization designated a day to remind the public
of the importance of forestry programs around the globe. The date coincides
with the spring equinox, when forests begin to dominate vast portions
of the landscape in the Northern Hemisphere.
to an article by Craig Rawlings, president and CEO of Forest Business
Network, in 1971 the General Assembly of the European Confederation
of Agriculture proposed setting aside "one day to celebrate the
world's forests and all that they offer for 'protection, production,
and recreation.'" Rawlings lists 24 different ways that our lives
are improved through proper forest management and the existence of healthy
forests. Collectively the list brings awareness to how important forests
are for our nation and the world.
a doubt the first two items on the list are important to many people:
(1) forests produce safe, durable products and (2) those products are
typically biodegradable and recyclable. Our landfills need a break,
and forest products bring much needed relief by being environmentally
points have to do with how forests function, noting that they help "improve
air quality" and "sequester carbon from the atmosphere."
That air in a forest is healthier to breathe than air in a city, with
its airborne industrial waste and automotive exhausts, is indisputable.
Plus the carbon that trees store is not getting into the atmosphere
and adding to the accumulation of greenhouse gases.
items on the list relate to the ecologically important ways in which
forest management can create healthy ecosystems. Forests serve many
purposes, including providing habitat for native wildlife and recreational
opportunities for people. The value of forests in ensuring that natural
levels of regional biodiversity are maintained cannot be overstated.
The same can be said for the assertion that forests provide "beautiful
landscapes and scenic vistas." The peace and solitude that a person
can find deep in a forest cannot be measured in economic terms. It is,
as the ad says, "priceless." Camping, hiking, and bird watching
are forms of outdoor recreation that can be enjoyed almost year-round
most places--but not without healthy forests. Likewise, sport hunting
is a national enterprise that relies on having intact, unfragmented
forests that are properly managed for compatibility with multiuse purposes.
envision forests as being far removed from cities, but the article addresses
the importance of urban forestry, which focuses on maintaining functional
forests within cities themselves. Green spaces within urban areas help
maintain some level of environmental integrity for many local, nonmigratory
species of wildlife, whereas a wide variety of birds and insects benefit
from having forest patches along a migratory route. Properly managed
urban forests can also serve as parks and recreational areas for local
communities. According to the article, the U.S. Forest Service reports
that trees in urban areas now constitute almost one-fourth of the tree
cover of the approximately 300 billion trees in the 48 contiguous states.
We also need to be aware that forest communities can vary considerably
from one region to another and the diversity is extraordinary. Spruce-fir,
beech-maple, cypress-gum, turkey oak-longleaf pine, mesquite, redwood,
and sequoia forests are but a few of the major types found in this country
alone. Each is important in its own right and efforts to maintain our
forests and replenish those that were damaged or destroyed during the
last century are worthwhile.
Few people would disagree that healthy forests are an environmental
feature we need to protect and preserve wherever they naturally occur.
To help achieve that goal, March 21 has been designated as World Forestry
Day. Though I missed it this year, I plan to take notice next year.
Because celebrating forests on a particular day will raise public awareness
of their importance, and over time people will begin to appreciate forests
and forestry programs throughout the year.
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