How Paper Production and Sustainable Forestry Keeps our Forests Growing
Between 2005 and 2015, U.S. forests grew by the equivalent of 2,740 NFL football fields each day. That’s a total of almost 1.3 million acres a year! In the U.S., we grow many more trees than we harvest. In fact, there are 20% more trees today than there were on the first Earth Day Celebration in 1970. Yet, our nation consumes more paper products than many parts of the world. How can this be?
It turns out that consumption of paper and other wood products, along with sustainable forest management, is essential to maintaining this growth.
Know Where Your Paper Comes From: Sustainable Forest Management
Did you know that private landowners provide more than 90% of wood and paper products? This is actually an important factor in ensuring the long-term health of U.S. forests. Receiving income for wood products grown on their land, private foresters and family tree farms are incentivized to engage in smart, sustainable harvesting practices. Moreover, profitable forest management may prevent the conversion of land to non-forest uses like real estate development and agriculture. Healthy forests also benefit the environment and economy in other ways, such as:
- Replenishing and extending the supply of wood fiber
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions that can contribute to climate change
- Creating trees that release oxygen into the atmosphere, supporting life on our planet
- Providing hundreds of thousands of jobs
Recycled and Fresh Wood: Contributing to the Paper Life Cycle
You may already be aware of the importance of recycled paper products made from wood fibers. While collecting and recycling paper is great for the environment, wood fibers in recycled materials will eventually become weak and break down. Without fresh wood, recycled fiber would quickly run out and paper production would rapidly cease. As such, a continuous supply of fresh wood fiber harvested from responsibly managed forests is vital for keeping the paper life cycle going.
Paper: Renewable, Recyclable, Compostable
Love reading in print? You’ll love it even more knowing that paper is a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable. It’s also recycled more than any other commodity, including plastic, glass or metals. Additionally, paper plays a significant role in our cultural development, contributing to education, literacy, democracy, and the transport of goods.
As you watch this year’s Super Bowl, take a look at the expanse of the football field and think about our forests that have grown by thousands of acres per day. These forests will contribute to the production of paper—one of the few truly sustainable products.
Phil has over 28 years of international experience related to sustainability and the forest products industry. He currently leads Two Sides North America, a non-profit that promotes the unique sustainable features of print and paper, as well as their responsible production and use. Two Sides operates globally in five continents with members that span the entire graphic communication value chain. Phil has written extensively on sustainability and environmental topics related to the forest products sector. He received his Bachelor and Master's of Science degrees from McGill University in Montreal. He is a private forest owner and sustainably manages over 200 acres of forestland for both recreational and economic benefits.