Conservation of our planet’s botanical resources and ecosystems

Forest Facts

  • Half of the forests that originally covered 48 percent of the Earth’s land surface are gone. Only one-fifth of the Earth’s original forests remain pristine and undisturbed.
  • In North America, more than half of the coastal temperate rainforests, once extending from California to Alaska, have been destroyed. Coastal temperate rainforests are one of the most endangered forest types on the planet.
  • Latin American forests are being lost at alarming rates. The rate of forest loss in Mexico is estimated at 600,000 to 2.5 million acres per year.
  • One-third of the planet’s virgin temperate rainforest — the largest remaining single expanse — is in the Tongass National Forest on the southeastern coast of Alaska. The Tongass, which shelters the world’s largest concentrations of grizzly bears and bald eagles, is seriously threatened by logging.
  • Over 430,000 miles of roads — more than 8 times the miles in the Interstate Highway System — cut through U.S. national forests. These roads, built with taxpayer money, fragment habitat for grizzly bears, elk and other wildlife, disrupt migration routes and destroy the scenic beauty of our woodlands. Forest roads cause serious soil erosion and stream sedimentation, ruining water quality and fish habitat. They have also been linked to an increase in the frequency and severity of mudslides.
  • Most of the mahogany exported from Peru is logged illegally. Illegal logging is a major threat to forests worldwide.
  • Roughly 20 percent of the total wood used in building a new home can be saved by framing more efficiently. This and other building techniques, if adopted by residential builders nationwide, would eliminate the demand to cut hundreds of thousands of acres of forest every year. In addition, these material-saving techniques often save builders money and time.
  • Less than 8 percent of Canada’s boreal forest is protected. The United States is the destination for nearly 80 percent of Canada’s forest products, including lumber, toilet paper, catalogue paper and newsprint — much of which comes from clearcutting in the boreal forest.
  • In recent years, an average of 95 percent of new forest roads were used for logging, with only 5 percent devoted to recreation or general use. In 2002,The U.S. Forest Service spent $62.3 million on forest road construction.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, degradation of soil and water resources due to industrial logging threatens some of the last remaining wild fisheries in the continental United States.
  • Global wood consumption is projected to increase 50 percent by the year 2050.
  • Americans use 27 percent of the wood commercially harvested worldwide, although only 5 percent of the world’s population lives in the United States. Each U.S. citizen consumes on average approximately 75 cubic meters of solid wood every year — about one ancient tree.
  • About one-sixth of the wood delivered to a construction site is never used. Instead, it’s hauled to the landfill as wood waste scraps.
  • Sustainable forestry practices can ease the pressure on our forests. The Collins Almanor forest in California contained 1.5 billion board feet of standing timber when harvesting began in 1941. Sixty years and 2 billion board feet later, this sustainably managed forest still holds 1.5 billion board feet of standing timber, and supports great blue heron rookeries, black bears, rubber boas and bald eagles.
  • Forest certification lets consumers know when wood comes from responsibly managed forests. As of 2004, 595 certificates, representing more than 100 million acres of forest land worldwide, had been issued by certifiers accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council, a group that oversees the certification process.
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