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America's Forests in State of Renewal and Regrowth
Washington, DC, USA, 02 May 2007 -- /PRNewswire/ -- The United States of America is covered by 750 million acres of forestland, an amount that has remained essentially unchanged over the past 100 years, reports a landmark new study released today by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). In addition, forestland in the United States has increased by more than 10 million acres over the past 20 years.

The new study, which is available for viewing or downloading at http://www.safnet.org/, found that replanting and reforestation efforts and natural forest regrowth on abandoned agricultural lands have generally offset any loss of forestland during the 20th century due to urban and suburban growth. Technological advances have made farming more efficient, vastly reducing the amount of land needed to produce food, thereby allowing forestland to regenerate, the report found.

"The State of America's Forests" reports there is good reason to believe that the positive trends will continue. "Most encouraging of all, perhaps, is not what has already been accomplished, but what is likely to be achieved by forestry and natural resources professionals in the future," the study concludes. In addition, the report notes that "few people may realize that for the past 100 years, the amount of forestland in the United States has remained relatively stable . . . thanks to improvements in markets for forest products and reforestation efforts."

Former USDA Forest Chief Dale Bosworth wrote the report's introduction and notes, "There is much good news to be shared about America's forests, particularly in regard to their abundance, the ecological services and recreational services they offer, the raw materials they provide, and the successful initiatives to sustain them."

The new report is a comprehensive, peer-reviewed analysis of a wide variety of data regarding forestland in the United States from a broad range of sources, including the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The report was authored by forestry expert Mila Alvarez, a professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute's College of Natural Resources and principal of Solutions for Nature, a natural resources management consulting firm.

The release of "The State of America's Forests" comes on the heels of a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report in March that also found the United States had annual increases in forest area in the 1990s and through 2005. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences released a study in November 2006 that came to a similar conclusion, finding a widespread pattern of reforestation in the United States and calling the United States a world leader in forestland regrowth.

"Our nation should be proud of the state of our forests," said Rod Lowman, president of the Abundant Forests Alliance (AFA), a coalition of wood and paper products companies formed to share information about the many ways the industry is helping to ensure abundant forests. The AFA provided major funding for the SAF study. "Coming just days after we all celebrated Earth Day, this report -- together with other recent studies -- shows that our rigorous reforestation efforts, combined with advances in agricultural and forestry technology, are allowing us to keep our forests healthy, growing and abundant. We are protecting the delicate balance between supplying the products people need and giving the forest environment what it needs to flourish."

"The State of America's Forests" shows that forests "represent one of the greatest renewable resources and provide vital ecosystem values, products, services, and conditions. When forests are managed in a sustainable manner, forest production can commonly meet the landowner's economic objectives while also protecting the environment." While the report notes that America's forests face significant challenges -- such as fire, insects,disease, invasive weeds, unmanaged recreation, and land conversions -- it documents a variety of reasons to be optimistic about our nation's forestland:

-- Annual net growth of U.S. forests is 36% higher than the volume
of annual tree removals.
-- Sustainable forest management is contributing to carbon sequestration
and storage. In the United States, the total carbon sequestered by
forests and the creation of wood products during the 1990s reached
nearly 200 megatons per year -- around 10% of U.S. emissions of
carbon dioxide from burning fuels.
-- The stability and abundance of forestland, together with the growing
conservation ethic of the American public over the past century, has
helped many species on the brink of extinction (e.g., wild turkey, elk)
make full recoveries.
-- Historical trends indicate that the standing inventory (volume of
growing trees) of hardwood and softwood tree species in U.S. forests
increased by 49% between 1953 and 2006.
-- Certification of sustainable forest management continues to increase
every year. The three major U.S. certification systems (Sustainable
Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, and American Tree Farm
System) "together certify more than 107 million acres, representing 14
percent of total U.S. forests. Some 25 percent of private US forestland
is now certified."

The Society of American Foresters is a national nonprofit scientific and educational organization and the largest professional society for foresters in the world. SAF's mission is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry and to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

About the Abundant Forests Alliance

Members of the wood and paper products industry in the United States formed the Abundant Forests Alliance. They share information with consumers and customers about the many ways the industry is helping to ensure that with proper care and management there will always be abundant forests. They also listen and respond to environmental concerns about our forests and products. Through sustainable forestry practices, improved recycling, and new technologies, industry is helping to maintain the delicate balance between supplying the wood and paper products people need and giving the forest what it needs to flourish.

AFA members include: Anthony Forest Products Company, Green Diamond Resource Company, International Paper, MeadWestvaco, Monadnock Paper Mills, Plum Creek Timber Company, Temple-Inland, The Westervelt Co., and Weyerhaeuser.

Visit http://abundantforests.org/ for more information about AFA.

Source: Abundant Forests Alliance

Web site: http://abundantforests.org/

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