Wood Products Can Prevent Deforestation
Most of us enjoy forests and see them as valuable assets that provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and beauty for society as a whole. Many people instinctively dislike cutting trees, fearing that these benefits will be lost. However, it is important to remember that cutting one tree provides the opportunity to grow another. Harvesting trees as a part of forestry is not the same as deforestation. In fact, the money made from wood products can help to ensure the continued existence of the forest by providing the landowner with an incentive not to convert forestland to another use.
The link between financial reward for forest products and the conservation of forest resources exists around the world. An article in the journal International Trade Forum discusses an example from Africa where the production of high-value carved wooden items is encouraging forest protection. In this case, the people are receiving a greater benefit from harvesting trees for forest products than they would from clearing the land for agriculture, so they have a clear incentive to protect their forest resources.
This link also exists here at home. The forest products industry is one of the biggest components of our economy. This industry depends on – and pays for - raw material (logs) from many small landowners. However, the market for forest products is currently quite weak and the prices paid for logs is low compared to other possible uses for the land, e.g. conversion for development for new housing and shopping centers. The population of Tennessee is growing rapidly and this is providing an incentive for many landowners to sell their forestland for development. This is likely to be the biggest threat to our forests in the future.
The forests of Tennessee are abundant and provide society with many benefits. Continuing to value wood products and support our local forest products industry may be one of the best ways to save the trees.