Why working forests are the answer: five benefits of well-managed forests to appreciate this Earth Day

Fall Forest: Michigan State Forest certified to SFI © Tom Haxby
© Tom Haxby - Fall Forest: Michigan State Forest certified to SFI

Happy Earth Day 2018! It’s estimated that there are about one trillion trees on Earth. Forests provide habitat for wildlife, clean the air we breathe, purify and regulate clean water sources, and provide countless other benefits that improve our lives. This Earth Day, we’re celebrating forests and all they do for us.

Check out these five benefits of well-managed forests:

SFI Grant Overview© SFI 2018 - SFI Grants by the numbers.

1. Future forests. Protecting forests for the next generation.

It’s important to see the forest for more than the trees. Plants, animals, and insects all call the forest home. Forests also play a critical role in achieving global sustainable development goals relating to water, biodiversity, climate change, and carbon sequestration.

Since 2010, SFI conservation grants have contributed $3.4 million to conservation research and pilot efforts and leveraged nearly three times that much from partner organizations. Projects include improving wildlife habitat management, research on recovery of species at risk, and developing new methods to measure conservation values.

2. Money grows on trees. Economic opportunities from the forest.

In the U.S. and Canada, the forest products sector supports nearly five million jobs directly and indirectly. It contributes roughly $300 billion to the U.S. and Canadian economies and demand is growing. Did you know products certified to the SFI Standard are sold in nearly 130 countries? Wood products offer consumers a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, sequestering and storing carbon while producing oxygen. This means building homes and other products from wood can help mitigate climate change.

SFI Grants Focus on© SFI - Out community projects focus on 5 main features.

3. Growing communities. Forests, a place to come together.

Forests bring communities together. We can all work together to make a difference to the future of U.S. and Canadian forests. Private landowners, harvesting and forestry professionals, Indigenous people, local government agencies, academics, scientists, conservationists, and anyone who loves forests can contribute to ensuring that our forests are appreciated and respected so they stay healthy and viable for generations to come.

The SFI community has brought together a unique grassroots network of thousands of people who actively support training programs, outreach, and environmental education.

PLT has reached 135 million students since 1976.© Project Learning Tree

4. Where will they grow? Environmental education and learning outdoors

Children are spending more time indoors than ever before. Instilling an appreciation for the great outdoors and the natural world around us is critical to keeping children healthy and ensuring a healthy future for our forests. Through environmental education we can grow future forest and conservation leaders by raising awareness of issues impacting the environment upon which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it.

Whether we bring nature into the classroom, take students outside to learn, or find impromptu teachable moments on a nature walk with our families, environmental education has many benefits for youth, educators, schools, and communities.

Check out Project Learning Tree’s Top 10 Benefits of Environmental Education.

How PLT helps students and educators© Project Learning Tree

5. Exploring the Great Outdoors! Recreation abounds in the forest.

Every year millions of hikers, birdwatchers, campers, hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts enjoy 300 million acres of forestlands that are certified to the SFI Standard — that’s bigger than Texas and California combined!

Getting outdoors has been proven to reduce stress levels, relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, and contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. Project Learning Tree shares 12 Nature Walk activities to enjoy this Earth Day and any other day to ensure nature walks are an engaging and enriching learning experience for children of all ages.

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