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Carefully Managed Forests Help Give Us Boxes We Need

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Whatever line of work you are in, there are probably bits of jargon or terms of art that you use. In our world, we talk a lot about forest management, and naturally enough, about managed forests.

So, what does that mean?

For the average person, words like manage, management, managed, and perhaps most of all, manager — has decidedly mixed associations. And there are further sensitivities at play when we are talking about managing natural resources.

Specifically, forest management has evolved over the decades to encompass the various ways we ensure that forestland maintains its productivity and vitality; its biodiversity and support for wildlife; its capacity to regrow and regenerate itself; its supportive function in maintaining healthy soil and clean water; and all the attendant economic and social functions that land plays in local communities and ecosystems — from hunting and fishing to birdwatching and hiking.

How do we do this?  Who are the forest managers, and what do they do to do a good job managing?

For starters, forest management is supported by communities with long histories — sometimes a century or more — of forestry. We call them “wood baskets.” And here are the things you’ll find in every wood basket community, be it rural North Carolina or western Arkansas or upper Michigan or the hinterlands of Maine. You’ll find family forest owners who conduct and pass on best practices to their children and grandchildren the way their parents and grandparents did to them.

One of the most important groups of organizations are the various independently-run and independently-audited forest certification standards organizations to which all of our member companies belong. These groups set benchmarks that landowners and industry have to meet to stay in their good graces, and to satisfy the increasingly rigorous demands of customers and consumers for responsibly sourced, sustainable produced products.

You’ll find forest science programs at the state universities and A&Ms, and even in the high schools, that transform trades into high-tech, good-paying jobs. You’ll find skilled craftspeople who comprise the local economy, from machinery operators and truck drivers to lumberjacks and sawmill workers. And you’ll find organizations, lots of them, to support all of this.

It’s the work of all of these people and groups that together comprises forest management. But here’s the real secret: Sometimes forest management means simply letting the land do its thing. Forests are incredible at capturing carbon, filtering water, sustaining soil, sheltering wildlife and regenerating themselves in the face of disease, pests and fire.

Today we can assure you our industry is doing it right. That’s why there are more trees now than there were 50 years ago. And why we plant roughly twice as much wood each year as we harvest.

And as long as there is a healthy demand for our products, this network of people and organizations, dating back a century and spanning a continent, will continue to do all the things it takes to protect our resources and keep our forests thriving.


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