Forests in North America are already part of our everyday lives. Forests clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink and help regulate our climate. Forests also offer virtually unlimited opportunities to exercise and relax. Taking advantage of them is good for us and good for forests, too.
According to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell: "Today, more than ever, our public lands should serve as the nation's preferred playgrounds for high-quality outdoor fun.”
In the U.S., public forests offer more than 150,000 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails, 338,000 heritage sites, and 57,000 miles of streams. According to a recent U.S. Forest Service survey, nearly forty percent of visitors said they spent their time in the forest just relaxing. The next three most popular activities were hiking and walking, skiing and viewing natural features.
To the North, Canada has 859 million acres (348 million hectares) of forest land, accounting for nine percent of forests in the world, or nearly 25 acres (10 hectares) per Canadian. About 94 percent of these Canadian forests are on publicly owned land, offering a huge range of recreation options, from white water rafting to native craft workshops.
As the Canadian Forest Service notes in their State of Canada’s Forests 2015, “Forests also provide recreational, cultural, traditional and spiritual benefits — whether in wilderness areas, managed stands or urban parks. With 11 million Canadians living in or adjacent to forested areas, these benefits are deeply valued and enjoyed by people across the country.”
10 things to do on your next forest visit:
- Absolutely nothing (just relax…)
- Walk or hike
- Swim in a woodland stream
- Ride a horse
- Watch birds or wildlife
- Visit a historic site
In fact, 95% of the forests certified to SFI are managed forests open for public recreation. These sustainably managed forests sustain rural economies from Canada’s boreal to the US South while also providing us with many benefits including the clean air we breathe, the water we drink, and the millions of products we enjoy every day.
SFI is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. The SFI Program helps conserve wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and promotes best management practices for water quality so that your community, which is our community, can have vibrant spaces and places to recreate. Every year millions of hunters and anglers, hikers, birdwatchers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoy forestlands that are certified to SFI.
To find out more about how forests provide for us and how we can help sustain them, visit sfiprogram.org.