Private Working Forests

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Sustaining Forest Health

Privately owned family forests are described as "working forests" because they produce a continuous supply of trees for the many wood, paper, and pulp-based products we use daily. Healthy forests are managed by private landowners allowing the public to reap many benefits that come from trees.

Because of family forests, we enjoy numerous benefits that are taken for granted everyday. Private forests provide us with a wealth of goods and services - clean water, clean air, abundant forest products, diverse wildlife habitat, and opportunities for outdoor recreation and education. Environmental Services of private forests:

  • Clean Water. Purify 25% of the nation's water, conserve water, and reduce soil erosion
  • Clean air. Healthy forests reduce pollution by offsetting 12% of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Every year, U.S. forests sequester 800 million tons of carbon dioxide.
  • Wildlife & plant diversity. Forest management allows working forests to provide critical habitats for wildlife and plants. Active management protects native wildlife and plants from invasive species. 60% of America's at-risk wildlife rely on private forests and 40% of the distribution of 152 bird species are in private forests. 

If we hope to continue to enjoy the environmental services and public benefits of America’s private forests, we must:

  • Protect our present forest resources
  • Estimate coming needs
  • Increase efforts to boost markets for forest production, not reduce it

Private forest landowners are the key to healthy forests in America. Public support for strong forest products markets is the key to healthy landowners.

To sustain healthy forests, we must sustain their caretakers. 

A Renewable Resource

The United States 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 proper management by private landowners. Working forests are the quintessential example of sustainability and renewability. But their balance of economic and environmental productivity is not guaranteed, it depends on stewardship practices of landowners and family foresters. This stewardship, in large part, depends on the ability for these forest caretakers to access markets for wood products and to earn enough money to stay in forestry.

Jobs and the Economy

Want more forests? Use more wood. Buying consumer and commercial products from U.S. working forests helps to sustain the economic vitality of the private landowner community. That vitality ultimately ensures healthy working forests and their sustainability for future generations.

Private forests hold tremendous economic value for the United States. But their sustainability depends on strong product markets and global perspective.

Economic Value of private family forests:

  • Jobs — 2.4 million jobs
  • Wages  $87 billion in payroll
  • Sales — $223 billion in sales
  • Industry — 5.7 percent of all U.S. manufacturing
  • GDP — $101 billion 
  • Revenues — $110 billion from fishing, hunting, and bird watching