California forests provide an abundance of both environmental and economic benefits to this State. And we’re proud to stand with President Obama and Assemblyman Brian Dahle in our support of National Forest Products Week recognizing the importance of our forests.
With more than 33 million acres of federal, state and private forestlands, California relies on the health of our forests to provide us with clean air and water. In fact, our forests absorb millions of tons of carbon every year and are the original source for 60 percent of the State’s water supply.
Our forests serve as habitat for millions of wildlife species, and provide the state with ample recreation and tourism opportunities.
They provide us with renewable wood products that we use in our everyday lives. Things like homes, books, paper products, baseball bats, football helmets, crayons, musical instruments, cleaning products and much, much more all come from wood.
And in California, our forestland owners ensure that these products are coming from sustainable forests that carefully balance the demand for wood products, while also preserving watersheds, wildlife habitat and much more. In fact, for every tree that is harvested, five more are planted to ensure a variety of species and the biodiversity of the forest.
But, our forests are also at risk from catastrophic wildfire, drought and insect infestation, making policies that support healthy managed forests even more important. In the past few years, we’ve seen more than 12 million trees die from drought and disease, and even more from wildfire.
We support proactive forest management policies. Ones that allow forests to be thinned to increase water quantity, increase fire resiliency, and protect wildlife habitat and communities. Ones that preserve our watersheds and improve forest health. And ones that provide for renewable and sustainable California wood products.
However, if policies are not enacted that recognize and promote these practices, California could continue to lose forestlands valuable to our entire way of life.
The forestry industry in California provides more than 52,000 jobs, producing more than $2.8 billion in annual payroll income and $536 billion in state and local taxes. Forestry is essential to many rural economies because of the jobs and tourism they bring with them.
While all the benefits of the forestry industry deserve to be celebrated, it is just as important to call attention to policies and practices that keep these forests healthy and the industry sustainable.
President Obama noted in his proclamation that “natural resources and materials provided by forests are essential to our way of life.” And while National Forests Products Week is a time to recognize and celebrate our forest products, it is also important that we take this time to remain committed to enacting environmental policies that support sustainable forest health and management to ensure that their numerous benefits are viable for generations to come.
California forests work for everyone. To learn more about National Fortes Products Week, please visit www.afandpa.org/our-products.