What is forestry?
Forestry is the art and science of managing forests to
produce various products and benefits, including timber, wildlife habitat, clean water,
biodiversity and recreation.
Why do we
need to manage our forests?
Our forests provide homes for wildlife, clean water,
places for recreation, and more than 5,000 products we all use every day including lumber,
furniture and paper. As our population grows, so does the demand for all of these
products. Unmanaged forests are often unhealthy and unproductive because of overcrowding,
disease, insects, and competition for light and nutrients. With proper management, we can
maintain healthy forests that provide all the many benefits we enjoy both now and in the
Why do we cut
While there are as many reasons for harvesting trees as
there are forest landowners, in general, trees are harvested for products, to improve
environmental health and to provide wildlife habitat. Removing some of the trees in a stand, a process called
thinning, provides the remaining trees more room to grow and reduces competition for
nutrients, sunlight and water. This reduction in competition results in healthier trees.
The young saplings that grow in areas where trees have been harvested play a critical role
in keeping our air and water clean. Younger, actively growing trees absorb more carbon
dioxide and produce more oxygen than overly mature trees. They also have rapidly growing
root systems that prevent soil erosion by holding the soil in place and absorb more
nutrients and minerals from the soil and water than older trees do.
In addition to improving the health of the environment,
harvesting trees can also improve habitat for many wildlife species including deer,
rodents, birds of prey, turkeys, songbirds, bats, rabbits and foxes. Removing all or some
of the trees in an area increases the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest floor and
promotes the growth of grasses, shrubs, herbs, berries and other plants that provide both
food and shelter for these animals.
Trees also are harvested to make more than 5,000
products we all use every day. These products range from paper used in books, magazines
and newspapers, lumber used to build houses, furniture and cabinetry, to a wide range of
other products including toothpaste, ice cream, hair spray, chewing gum, molded plastics,
cellophane, soap, shampoo and lotion.
running out of trees?
No. Nationwide, we have 70 percent as much forestland as
when Columbus landed despite the huge population growth and development that has occurred
since then. Each year, Americans plant more than 2.3 billion seedlings, which is more than
nine trees for every man, woman and child in the U.S. In addition, millions of new
seedlings regenerate naturally. In North Carolina, more than 60 million trees are planted
each year on harvested lands, and millions more seedlings regenerate naturally. The forest
industry is the nations and states leading tree planter followed by private
wildlife habitat destroyed when we cut trees?
Because there is no one perfect habitat, wildlife
benefits most by having a variety of habitats across the landscape. Through forest
management activities such as thinning, harvesting and prescribed burning, we can simulate
natural patterns of disturbance and change in a forest, and provide the variety of
habitats that wildlife species need. While harvesting trees may temporarily remove habitat
for some species, it creates new habitat for others.
Are North Carolinas hardwood
forests being replaced with pine?
No. Hardwoods dominate the states forest and
account for 55 percent of the timberland in the state. Softwoods, mostly pine, make up
about one-third of the timberland, and mixed stands of hardwood and pine account for about
paper recycling save trees?
Not really, although the reasons are complicated. First
of all, the giant, old growth trees most people think of when they talk about "saving
trees" are not harvested to make paper. In fact, most old growth forests have been
set aside and preserved. When large trees are harvested, they are usually used to make
lumber for building homes and furniture. Trees used to make paper are typically smaller
trees or trees not of sufficient quality for other products. So recycling more paper
wont reduce the number of big trees that are harvested. The only way to do that
would be to build fewer houses and less furniture or to use less environmentally-friendly
building materials such as metal and concrete. Also, a reduction in the need to harvest
trees for papermaking does not necessarily mean those trees wont be harvested for
some other use.
A major benefit of paper recycling is that it reduces
the amount of landfill space needed to dispose of paper products. In the United States,
each person uses approximately 675 pounds of paper a year for books, newspapers,
magazines, corrugated boxes and other products. About 43 million tons of this paper is
recovered for recycling, saving 90 million cubic yards of landfill space each year. But
not all paper can be recycled into new paper products because of contaminants such as food
and plastic that cannot be removed during processing. There also is a limit to the number
of times paper products can be recycled. Each time paper is reprocessed, the wood fibers
break down into smaller pieces. Eventually, the fibers are so small that they cant
be used again. At this point, trees must be cut to produce new or virgin wood fiber that
can either be added to recycled fiber or used by itself to make new paper.
What is the difference between national parks
and national forests?
important are forests to North Carolinas economy?
By law, national forests are working forests, set aside
by congress in the late 1800s to provide the nation with a continual source of wood
products. These national forests have a multiple-use mandate, which means they also
provide wildlife habitat and are used for fishing, camping and other forms of recreation.
By contrast, national parks were established to preserve natural features and areas of
historical interest or exceptional beauty, and are not managed for timber or other
resource production. Although many of our parks have paved roads and organized recreation
areas, they are intended to approximate natural conditions. That means, for example, that
when theres a fire on a national park, the forest is left to regrow naturally, no
matter how devastating the fire is or how long it takes for the forest to regenerate.
Approximately 58 percent (17.6 million acres of
timberland plus 600,000 acres of wilderness) of North Carolinas total land mass is
forested. This vast forest land is the foundation of the states second-largest
manufacturing industry, the forest products industry, which employs more than
people and has an annual payroll of $3.8 billion.
In addition, North Carolinas forests are important
to the states recreation and tourism industry. The Great Smoky Mountains
National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway are Americas most popular national park and
scenic parkway, respectively, and generate millions of dollars in tourism for the state
Are there environmental advantages to using wood
Yes. Trees are a renewable resource while most
alternative materials come from nonrenewable resources, such as the petrochemicals used in
making plastics and the ores used to make aluminum, iron and other metals. Wood is also
the most energy-efficient building material available today. When you compare the total
energy costs of different kinds of building materials -- including the cost to acquire the
raw material, transport it, process it into a useful product and then actually use it --
wood far outshines its competitors. Steel wall studs require almost nine times more energy
to produce than do wood studs. A brick veneer wall requires 22 times more energy than wood
siding, while aluminum siding requires four times more energy. And a concrete floor
requires 21 times more energy to produce than does an equivalent wood floor. In addition,
forest products are recyclable and biodegradable.