this number continues to climb. Each year, an acre of forest captures between 1 and 4 tons of additional carbon.
It may sound odd, but forests effectively reduce atmospheric carbon even when they are harvested, as long as the forested land is not converted to a non-forest use in the process. Harvested trees used for forest products, such as lumber or furniture, continue to store carbon. Even harvesting trees for biofuels favors the carbon equation because we can leave underground the coal or oil necessary to produce the equivalent amount of energy. And, in time, the forest will grow back to capture the same amount—or even more—carbon in the future.
Although some fossil fuels are burned when harvesting and transporting forest products, the amount is typically a small fraction of the resources needed to extract other materials, such as metal and coal. This offers yet another way in which using tree products can help combat greenhouse gasses.
Missouri’s forests are an important supplier of numerous wood products used not only in our state, but worldwide. Wood from Missouri’s forests is used to make furniture and cabinets, flooring, barrels, tool handles, charcoal, pallets, shavings, firewood and much more. Through the production of these and other wood products, Missouri’s forest products industry contributes approximately $5.7 billion to Missouri’s economy annually, supports 31,700 jobs, and generates $57 million each year in state sales tax.
Forest products have several environmental advantages over alternative resources:
- Trees and forests are renewable resources when managed properly. As trees are harvested, new trees quickly emerge and fill in the gaps left behind.
- Harvesting trees is generally much easier and less intrusive than the extraction of resources like metals, coal and oil.
- Wood products are generally biodegradable, recyclable or both.
- When done properly, the harvest of forest products can provide an economical means of improving forest health and wildlife habitat.
Community Trees and Forests
We have focused on the benefits of forests, but community trees also provide numerous benefits.
For example, trees reduce stormwater runoff in areas where there is a high concentration of buildings, streets and other impervious surfaces. This helps local governments and citizens save money by reducing the amount of stormwater that needs to be collected and treated.
People realize further benefits as community trees shade dwellings, reducing summer cooling costs. They also provide an oasis of shade when city temperatures become stifling hot. In