Guest post by Ian Hanna of EarthShare member Forest Stewardship Council - U.S.
Pause for a moment to imagine a thriving forest. Maybe it’s a forest from your childhood or a landscape from your travels. Look up and see the tops of the trees. Take a deep breath to inhale the fresh forest air – the perfume of pine needles and moss. A stream of cold, clear water rushes past you as yesterday’s rainfall still drips to the forest floor.
People are a forest species. We come from the forest and rely on forests for clean water to drink and air to breath. Forests regulate our planet’s climate, air, soils and water and provide homes to wildlife. Around the world, forests support 1.6 billion people and provide habitat to 70% of the world’s terrestrial animals and plants.
No natural system is as diverse or iconic as a forest.
Yet the forests of our childhood memories may be just that, memories. 30 million acres of forest are lost each year – 36 football fields every minute. Deforestation is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire transportation sector.
We need to take better care of our forests.
Enter the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a nonprofit organization that sets standards for responsible management of the world’s forests. Founded in 1993 by progressive businesses and environmental groups, FSC is a member-led organization that uses the power of the marketplace to protect forests for future generations. With groups such as WWF, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy and Rainforest Action Network as members, FSC represents the gold standard for forest management.
At FSC, we know that forests can be managed in a way that protects, and even enhances, ecosystem values and benefits to local communities. FSC standards everywhere in the world are renowned for their comprehensiveness, including the following key concerns:
When you see the FSC logo on a product you buy, it means your purchase is directly supporting healthy forests.
Today, more than 400 million acres of forest (170 million in the US and Canada) and 26,000 companies are certified to FSC standards. These lands are protected from deforestation and are maintained as healthy, working forests.
In the US, much of our forestland is private. If landowners can’t earn a living from these forests, they will inevitably cut them down for farms, ranches or real estate development. While total acreage of forests in the US remains relatively stable, certain parts of the country are seeing declining forest coverage. For example, the Southeastern US is projected to lose 31 million acres of forest by 2040.
Like many nonprofit organizations, FSC relies on support from donors to do its work.
Current efforts focus on bringing more family forest owners into the FSC system, to protect forests as they change hands from generation to generation, especially in the Southeastern US.
FSC is also working to promote wood from FSC certified forests as a green building material. Unlike concrete or steel, wood sequesters carbon for the life of the building. And when it comes from a well-managed forest, it is arguably the most sustainable building material.
Donor support helps FSC grow programs like these, creating demand for responsibly managed forests. This translates into cleaner air and water, protected habitat for rare and endangered species, fewer toxic pesticides used and overall improvement in the health of our forests.
Through Earthshare, you can do your part to help ensure the health of the world’s forests – through individual donations and by looking for the FSC logo when purchasing wood and paper products.
To learn more about FSC, visit our website at www.fsc.org.