Having observed through several years the proliferation of such e-mail taglines as “Please don’t print this e-mail,” keyboarder and Tree Farmer Chuck Leavell and forester Carlton Owen decided to make the case for paper consumption as a stimulus for sustainable forestry in a jointly authored commentary appearing in the March 30 Wall Street Journal. As Chuck’s own e-mail tagline proclaims: “Notice: It’s OK to print this email. Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Thanks to improved forest management, we have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago.” While stipulating that “we don’t advocate wanton waste of paper or any other material,” Leavell and Owen point out cutting paper consumption “may indirectly hasten the conversion of forests to other uses like strip malls, parking lots and housing developments—because the nation’s forest landowners can’t keep growing trees without markets for this natural, organic and renewable product.”
Within two days, the op-ed’s on-line edition had drawn over 150 reader comments ranging from the hopelessly muddled to the surprisingly trenchant—a forum in which the FRA Bulletin’s editor was pleased to participate.