This week, the forest products industry celebrates two holidays of great importance: Earth Day which was yesterday, April 22nd, and Arbor Day which is tomorrow, April 24th. Since their inceptions, these two holidays have always presented an opportunity for the members of the wood supply chain to tell their stories. This year, however, these holidays take on more meaning as they provide an opportunity for people across the country to better understand the value of the forest products industry.
Earth Day has been celebrated worldwide each year on April 22nd. Beginning in 1970, the day presents a chance to reflect on our relationship to the natural world and our dependence upon the resources that come from it. In 2018, Steve Kariainen, FRA’s former Lake States Region Coordinator, wrote more about the relationship that Earth Day has with forestry:
- The concept of Earth Day especially resonates with foresters in that the practice of forestry involves long-term protection of the resource through active management of forest health, growth, harvest and regeneration. Foresters have long embraced the concept of balanced, perpetual use and protection of forest resources – a concept formally recognized by Congress with the passage of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960.
Arbor Day, observed annually on the last Friday in April, is an event focused on the importance of planting trees with an eye towards the future. Last year, Rick Meyer, FRA’s Appalachian Region Manager, wrote on the holiday and the part that the U.S. wood supply chain plays in planting trees:
- The American forest industry can relate to Arbor Day on a grand scale. U.S. forest products companies are directly or indirectly responsible for planting the biggest share of the one- to two-billion trees that Americans plant every year…The forest products industry introduced many private, nonindustrial forest landowners to modern forest management and reforestation techniques through various company landowner assistance programs over the years.
In the spirit of both holidays, the forest products industry has a great story to tell. Today, the wood supply chain is doing its part to balance the societal daily dependence on the natural resources the industry uses with the need to protect those resources for use by future generations. Forests in the United States grow more wood than is harvested each year, a trend that has been increasing since the very first Earth Day. At the same time, the forest produces many of the resources that we depend on for daily life and provides crucial jobs and economic opportunities to those in rural America. The U.S. forest products industry is enhancing both our economy and our environment.
During the current COVID-19 crisis facing our country, the story of the forest products industry is even more relevant. Earlier this month, Rick Meyer wrote a great blog titled “No Chips, No Toilet Paper” where he drew a connection between the current crisis and the absolute necessity of the products that our industry produces such as toilet paper, tissues, disinfecting wipes and other paper products. Without the reliability of the forest products industry, many in this country would be left without daily household products that they depend on for everyday life. This understanding of the crucial nature of our industry has been further reinforced by both the Federal Government’s and almost every state’s designation of our industry as an essential business that must remain open.
Ultimately, this crisis reminds us of the importance of the wood supply chain. It should be clear to all that the reliability of the forest products industry now and in the future is vital. So, on this Earth Day and Arbor Day let’s make sure that this connection is made and that our industry’s story is told.