Environmental Services

Just as our nation relies on an infrastructure of roads, rails and utilities, we also have a network of forests that provides significant benefits. Water, climate change, health, jobs and quality of life—all intersect in some way with forests and forest management. Family forests are engines of environmental goods and services.

Tom Vilsack

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

“Our nation’s economic health, and the health of our citizens, depends on abundant, clean and reliable sources of freshwater. Clean, healthy forests are vital to our efforts to protect America’s freshwater supply.”

America’s family forests provide environmental benefits:

  • Two-thirds of the U.S. clean water supply comes from precipitation that is filtered through forests and ends up in streams.
  • More than a quarter of America’s drinking water is filtered by private forests.
  • 60% of America’s at-risk wildlife relies on private forests.
  • Private forests contain more than 40% of the U.S. distribution of 152 forest bird species.
  • U.S. forests sequester 800 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. Forest products store an additional 100 million tons.

Family Forests Contribute to America’s Safe Drinking Water Supply

Forests help prevent impurities from entering streams, lakes, and ground water. Root systems of trees and other plants keep soils porous and allow water to filter through various layers of soil before entering ground water.

The contribution of privately managed forests to water purification is significant; an estimated 25% of all water flow in the United States comes from or is filtered by private forests. Forest Landowners are committed to protecting water quality through the use of forestry best management practices (BMPs).