Can Paper Save North America’s Forests?
One of the most common cited reasons for going paperless is that it saves trees. This makes some intuitive sense. Paper after all, does come from trees. It’s a simple fact that for paper to be created, at some point in the cycle, someone needed to cut down some trees. And so the reasoning feels right. If we use less paper, we’ll naturally need to cut down less trees, right?
But the truth is that paper manufacturing and paper products consumption helps to drive the regeneration and growth of forests in North America. Yes, trees are felled to provide the raw material for paper creation, but from sustainable paper forest farming, to hyper efficient paper recycling, paper ultimately helps keep North America’s forests growing and expanding.
Why We Need Forests
Forests are an incredible hub of biodiversity and an important bedrock of many ecosystems. They provide homes and habitats for plant and animal life and contribute to the oxygen cycle that grants us the air to breathe. Our forests also prevent soil loss and erosion and provide protection for watersheds and wetlands. Because of their many benefits, forests are one of the most carefully managed natural resources in our country.
You won’t hear this from paperless advocates, but paper manufacturers are some of our forests most careful stewards. Because paper manufacturers are deeply invested in the long-term health of their trees, they work to ensure that their forests are cared for and protected. This means watching for pests, disease and wildfires.
Because paper production provides a dependable market for forest products, it encourages landowners to responsibly manage their forestland rather than sell it off for development or other non-forest uses. Consequently, the production of paper actually helps ensure the long-term preservation of North America’s forests.
North America’s Forests
In North America, this guarded stewardship has helped contribute to a remarkable regrowth of American forests. In North America, forests have increased in total net size by 2% in the last 13 years. For forests of growing paper stock, growth is even more substantial at 5%. That’s the equivalent of growing 22,000 tennis courts of new forests each day. When tree cutting and removal is performed, it is also done in a sustainable manner. In the US, tree cutting is done on less than 2% of forest land, less than the roughly 3% that is damaged each year by insects, disease and fire. Strict forest certifications and regulations also demand mandatory regeneration to ensure that forests remain productive and healthy over the long-term.
North America’s great forests are one of its most precious and valuable resources. Through careful stewardship and management, North America’s nearly 11 million private forest owners help contribute to their forest’s continuing health and growth. Wood and paper products are some of the most environmentally sustainable products available today. We invite you to learn how their industries help contribute to a more environmentally healthy future.