Forest Facts: Rural Communities Benefit from Sustainable Forestry Industry

Sustainable forestry industry

Sustainable forestry is helping to create and preserve jobs and diversify economies in rural communities that have been hit hard by the recession, or have a high concentration of poverty. In forested areas all over the nation, tax credits combined with 21st-century methods of harvesting, moving and processing timber are improving the quality of life for local residents. The boom comes courtesy, in large part, of New Market Tax Credits, a federal program that aims to spur revitalization efforts in low-income and impoverished communities.

This program provides tax credit incentives to people and companies who invest in certain types of projects in low-income communities. Many of these companies are creating green jobs in struggling timber communities. The nonprofit organization Ecotrust reports that qualifying projects have included the re-opening of a closed plastic-wood composite manufacturing plant in Washington, construct a new wood biomass plant in Oregon and restore vast tracts of forest in the Northwest.

In Berlin, New Hampshire, the Burgess Biomass Plant recently received its first delivery of sustainably harvested wood. Built on the site of a defunct paper mill, the plant will produce 75 megawatts of power, sustain 40 jobs in management and plant operations, and create hundreds more jobs in the harvesting and transporting of the wood.

Another recipient of the New Market Tax Credits, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), used funds for the Maine Woods Initiative to encourage nature-based tourism, creating jobs in forestry while also encouraging a ripple effect in the local economy from visitors who come to enjoy the beauty of nature in the area.

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Preserving America’s Natural History: Threats to the Eastern White Pine Tree

Protect Eastern White Pine Bald Eagle

The Eastern White Pine is one of America’s most iconic trees, playing a prominent role in the early history of our nation. But while the Northeast was once blanketed with vast forests of this towering pine, irresponsible logging and a series of natural threats including beetles and fungus have greatly reduced its numbers. Sustainable forestry is a big step forward, but there are also steps that individuals can take, like planting these trees on private property and taking attentive care of them.

The largest conifer of Eastern and Upper Midwest forests, the Eastern White Pine can reach up to 150 feet in height and thrives in a variety of soils. It’s easy to grow and transplant, and makes an ideal privacy and wind barrier and erosion control for property borders. They’re also highly decorative, and offer a haven for wildlife ranging from hawks to squirrels. They’re also a favorite for Christmas trees, especially for allergy sufferers, since they don’t have a strong scent.

The white pine weevil is the most serious insect pest of the Eastern White Pine; it’s found in every state where the tree grows, from Maine in the north to Georgia in the south and Minnesota in the west, as well as Canada. The larvae bore down into the bark of the tree, killing growth and causing trees to become stunted and deformed. Growing this tree in mixed, uneven-aged stands is considered one of the best ways to avoid this threat, since shading the saplings and pole-sized trees makes them less attractive to the beetles. Mixed forests are a common method of growing Eastern White Pine in the sustainable lumber industry.

Diseases like white pine blister rust also pose a danger to the Eastern White Pine. Introduced to America on white pine seedlings from Europe in the 1890s, this fungus causes lesions to develop on the branches, and makes the needles turn yellow. There are no fungicides available to prevent this problem, so the best way to manage it is to inspect young white pine trees each spring and prune all branches from the lower third of each tree. Remove branches that may be infected immediately to keep the fungus from reaching the main stem.

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Reducing Climate Change Effects Through Sustainable Forestry

EWP Sustainable Forestry Climate Change

Forests are one of our most valuable tools in the battle against climate change, so preserving them and planting additional trees around the world is more crucial than ever. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, sustainably managed forests have the potential to absorb one-tenth of the projected global carbon emissions during the first half of the 21st century. Maintaining the forests needed to combat climate change could help make up for weak global emissions reduction targets.

Holding more carbon in trees and soils than any other habitat on earth, forests could help slow the pace of climate change. But at the same time, they are themselves susceptible to its effects. Climate change will increase the growth of trees that live in colder climates, but it will also boost bacteria and fungi that break down carbon compounds stored in forest soils, releasing that carbon back into the atmosphere. If decomposition of these compounds outpaces tree growth, forests could actually increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The key is keeping up the pace of forest growth. In addition to wiping out large areas of forest, irresponsible logging increases forests’ susceptibility to droughts and other effects of climate change. The United Nations, along with a number of environmental organizations, has begun efforts to integrate climate change concerns into core forestry activities in nations around the world. That means setting guidelines for forest policies and management, and helping countries develop their own policies to protect this vital resource.

Sustainable forest harvesting practices ensure that we have plenty of wood for our needs today, while ensuring that we aren’t depleting tomorrow’s resources. Non-sustainable forestry methods strip forests of the largest, most valuable trees without concern for maintaining forest diversity or planning for the future. Learn more about sustainable forestry and the difference it can make.

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Eastern White Pine’s Uses as a Healing Natural Medicine

EWP Pine Medicinal Uses Feature

In addition to its prized uses as a building material, and its beauty in the landscape, Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus) is a valuable medicinal plant and even a source of food. This majestic tree has a long history of applications for all manner of physical ills, and modern herbalists still consider it to be an excellent remedy for coughs and colds. The inner bark, resin, needles and roots all have specific health purposes.

The Iroquois and Micmac tribes used it as a panacea, finding its inner bark and resins to be a healing wonder for coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis and chest congestion. When Europeans first arrived in America, they reportedly followed the wisdom of the natives and drank tea made with Eastern White Pine needles to ward off disease. The blue-green needles are extremely rich in vitamin C.

The soft inner bark of Eastern White Pine, which is said to have a taste that is both bitter and sweet, was separated from the outer bark and hung in strips to dry. In times of great hunger, this bark was pounded into a flour that is still considered to be an excellent survival food to this day. In an article on the Rural Vermont website, writer Euell Gibbons details his own efforts to replicate this ‘famine bread,’ reporting that while it’s edible and nutritious, its flavor might be an acquired taste.

New shoots of white pine can be peeled and candied, boiling them until tender in plain water, and then boiling again for twenty minutes in a syrup made of half sugar, half water. The candied shoots are then rolled in granulated sugar.

Eastern White Pine produces a sap that is naturally antibacterial, hence its historic use as a wound treatment. Learn how to make pine pitch salve at Bear Medicine Herbals.

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Forest Facts: More Trees Than Ever Thanks to Responsible Wood Harvesting

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Sustainable forestry practices pay off in a big way, as proven by the latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization. While deforestation is still a major global problem, trees are actually multiplying in the United States, which contains eight percent of the world’s forests. There are more trees than there were 100 years ago. Forest growth has been exceeding harvest at an increasing rate since the 1940s.

The report notes that about 33 percent of the United States is forested. Many of those forests are classed as productive forests, which aren’t legally reserved from timber harvest, with others set aside for watershed protection, wildlife habitat, domestic livestock grazing and recreation.

America’s forests were depleted during the 18th and 19th centuries, when old-growth trees were felled for logging and to clear land for development.  Early forest conservation policies aimed to slow that pace, and studies show that these efforts have nearly reversed a lot of that damage. The average standing wood volume per acre in the Eastern United States, where early settlers took trees down at an alarming rate, has almost doubled since 1952.

Well-managed timber forests, like those which produce Eastern White Pine, not only provide us with a renewable material that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, they also play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance and the overall health of the planet. Plentiful trees filter the air, give us oxygen, provide a haven for creatures of all kinds and help control the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.

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