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Q: Are There More Trees Today Than There Were 100 Years Ago?

Q: Are There More Trees Today Than There Were 100 Years Ago?-1True or False: There are more trees today than there were 100 years ago.

The good news is that the answer is a resounding “TRUE”! According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s”. Even though the usage of trees has increased almost 400% since 1920, through proper forest management we actually have an increase in tree growth. Today much of the industrial tree cutting occurs in managed tree plantations grown specifically for harvesting for paper pulp. Acreage that is harvested is replanted with start-up trees usually numbering many more than were removed.

Almost no cutting occurs in legacy forests where old, large trees grow and certainly no such activity occurs in the United States. In Alaska, where the two largest national forests in the United States are found, only about 4% of the forests have been cut in the last 95 years. Natural regeneration is so abundant in this area, that many new trees quickly replace the harvested forests.  Many areas require thinning for healthy regrowth after the first 15 years and after about 50 years, the second growth area will have more timber volume than the original old growth acreage.

Today we should look at trees as just another agricultural crop. Just as Christmas tree growers plant and harvest trees each year for the holiday, so do paper companies plant trees and harvest the pulp to make paper products. Just think of the indispensable paper items you use every day: Paper towels, paper cups, toilet paper, diapers, stationary, envelopes, books.

We are beyond the time when old legacy forests are threatened merely for profit’s sake and now live when regulated and thoughtful farming of trees is the norm. Paper products are bio-degradable and are inexpensive, and needed items in our daily experience.

 

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