The True Value of Forests: Time to Demand That Forest Management Protects and Grows the Total Value of This Priceless Resource

Article excerpt

Trees and forests provide us with essential health, recreational, aesthetic, and other benefits, many of which we literally can't live without. Unfortunately, forest management in this country and around the world has traditionally focused less on the services produced by trees and more on the timber that could be produced. Forest management has, quite literally, failed to see the forest for the trees. It's time for everyone who cares about trees and forests to demand that forest management protects and grows the total value of forests.

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Look at the benefits that approach provides:

* Cleaner drinking water and less erosion.

* Cleaner air that's free of pollutants.

* Processing of harmful carbon dioxide, helping to slow global warming.

* Better control of rain runoff and snow melt, resulting in fewer problems with flooding in rural areas and overflowing storm sewers in urban areas.

* More habitat for wildlife.

* Cooler temperatures--and lower heating and cooling bills--thanks to increased tree canopy in urban areas.

* Improved quality of life in urban and rural areas alike.

This approach makes good civic and economic sense. Experience has shown that if we don't take care of our trees and forests, we have to replicate the essential public services they provide through costly man-made devices like power plants and storm drains. Forests can provide these services more cheaply and effectively than any replacement we can generate. Thus it is essential to protect, restore and enhance our forests to guarantee they will continue to provide the services we need.

With that in mind, AMERICAN FORESTS will focus its efforts in 2005 on three programs that we think are key to communicating the value of trees and forests for their long-term values.

* We will continue to expand our touted environmental education initiative, which pairs CITYgreen GIS software with lesson plans and trees as an effective way to teach math, science and geography with real-world applications.

* We will continue to work with cities and towns to calculate the environmental and economic value of their forests. …

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