I think we can all agree that we all enjoy forests and see them as valuable assets that provide recreational opportunities, beautiful landscapes, and wildlife habitats. So instinctively, we probably dislike the idea of cutting trees in the fear that we will lose all of those benefits. But let's try to remember that cutting down one tree means there is an opportunity for another one to grow. What I'm talking about is harvesting trees as opposed to deforestation.
Harvesting vs. Deforestation
Harvesting is growing trees for a specific reason. Think of Christmas trees. Each year a landowner harvests Christmas trees just so they can be chopped down for consumers. Everyone benefits in this situation: the landowner benefits from the money he made, the customer benefits from the beautiful pine-smelling tree for the holidays, and the forestland benefits from not being converted to a different use. Luckily for these consumers and forests, the landowner is making more money from the land by harvesting the trees than converting the land to apartments or shopping centers.
Deforestation is essentially converting forest land to other uses. In areas where population is growing rapidly, landowners find more benefits from using the land for development purposes instead of forestry. Picture the Christmas tree landowner again. If his town begins to develop rapidly, he might see that he could make more money from building an office building than he could from growing Christmas trees. Then instead of harvesting his land for Christmas trees, he deforests it and builds an office building.
Creating a Demand for Forests
Buying and using wood products creates a demand for these forests. If the demand to continue growing these trees is greater than the demand to develop the land, guess what the landowner will do. I will bet money that the landowner will continue to grow trees so woodworkers can continue to build fine wood products. We can all agree to the benefits that forests provide society. Continuing to support the local forest products industry and valuing fine wood products may be one of the best ways to save the trees.
If you'd like to read more, The University of Tennessee wrote information about this topic too! And we'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Post a comment about how you can help deforestation!