“Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Forests aren’t just trees. They’re communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms that interact with one another and with physical components such as soil, water, and the climate. Each part of the forest impacts others. Trees affect which plants and animals reside in the forest, protect soil from erosion, reduce runoff, improve water quality, and clean and cool the air. Likewise, the tree species found in a forest are influenced by the forest's living components. Humans also are important constituents of forest communities.
We define sustainability as meeting the needs of society today without jeopardizing our ability to do so in the future. Not surprisingly, the USA is home to the world’s most sustainable and available timber supply. Despite rapid population growth, this figure has remained unchanged for the past century due to a favorable regulatory climate, healthy markets and, of course, proper management by private landowners.
Glenn “G.T.” Thompson
United States Congressman
Private forest landowners manage hundreds of millions of acres that serve as an economic engine for rural America and beyond. These forests generate jobs and dozens of everyday products, enhance plant and animal habitats, and provide numerous recreational opportunities.
Despite their economic and environmental output, nonindustrial private forests are in jeopardy. Since the 1990s, the conversion of forestland to developed uses has exceeded one million acres per year. Driving much of this conversion is the demand for residential housing and, more precisely, the disparity in profits between developing forested land versus keeping it in timber production. Ironically, recent initiatives aimed at rewarding environmental stewardship on private forests could accelerate forest conversion.