Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: Be Aware of the Importance of Our World's Forests

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: Be Aware of the Importance of Our World's Forests

Article excerpt

Did you 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.

According 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.

Without 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 friendly.

Additional 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.

Several 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. …

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