December 21, 2018|By Paul Trianosky| Climate
At SFI, we believe that “forests are the answer.” But you might ask, “To what?”

Although most of us who live in or near an urban area may not see forests regularly, the benefits of forests affect our lives every day.

Most essential for us is the air we breathe and the water we drink. Trees are natural filters, soaking up carbon dioxide (CO2) and trapping chemicals and soil pollutants, which could otherwise seep into lakes and rivers, potentially impacting drinking water sources and aquatic habitat. In exchange for the carbon dioxide, trees “exhale” oxygen, effectively sustaining all our lives.

12 21 BigRiverForestCAcMatthewGerhartBig River Forest in California. Photo by Matthew Gerhart.

The build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses is contributing to climate change, intensifying storms, and generating a rise in sea levels that can flood communities and cause millions of dollars of damage—forests directly mitigate this effect. And, imagine forests as vast “sponges” that mitigate flood impacts, filter water, and recharge groundwater systems. The natural processes of forests are among the world’s most powerful antidotes to the impacts of climate change. 

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Forests also supply us with many of the products we use every day—from toilet paper to milk cartons and other food packaging, even the wooden pallets used to transport goods across the globe. Tall wood buildings are experiencing a burgeoning interest among architects and engineers, who appreciate the aesthetics, renewability and carbon sequestration value of wood construction. And “working” forests provide jobs for forestry professionals, transportation, and wood product manufacturing. In fact, the forests products industry directly supports 1 million workers and indirectly supports an additional 1.7 million jobs—contributing as much as $370 billion dollars to our national economy each year.

Beyond these values, countless numbers of wildlife species depend on forests for survival. Numerous species that are native to California’s North Coast depend on the health of well-managed forests. At Garcia River Forest in California, The Conservation Fund and partners have been working to restore and improve stream conditions for the endangered coho salmon, and it’s working—the species is starting to make a comeback.

At SFI, we see forests as the answer to many of our environmental sustainability challenges, and we’re actively investing in that future. We’ve partnered with The Conservation Fund, a leader in sustainable forest management, to advance forest conservation and combat climate change. Since 2004, The Conservation Fund has owned and sustainably managed 74,000 acres in the Buckeye, Garcia River, Big River, Salmon Creek, Salmon Creek and Gualala River forests along the North Coast of California, which are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard.

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SFI made its annual conference carbon-neutral this year by purchasing carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund’s Garcia River Forest. Through a donation from Resolute Forest Products, SFI has offset the CO2 emissions resulting from attendee travel, accommodations and all of the major conference sessions. Earlier this year, SFI already offset the emissions from its 2018 Project Learning Tree International Coordinators’ Conference, through a donation from Neiman Timber Company. These offsets benefit our climate, numerous endangered species and a local forest products industry that contributes millions of dollars to the economy each year.

We see The Conservation Fund’s working forests as a shining example of the connections between sustainable forests, thriving communities and responsible purchasing, and we are proud once again to support their groundbreaking approach to forest management and stewardship. Forests are indeed the answer.

Make sure to read parts 1 and 2 of our climate series:
Part 1: Climate Change: Seeing the Forest for the Trees by Alterra Hetzel, manager of the Fund’s business partnerships
Part 2: Growing Resources in Kansas to Combat Climate Change by Kevin Harnish, Forestry Analyst for The Conservation Fund’s Working Forest Fund®

How You Can Help

Have you offset your carbon footprint this year? Use our carbon calculator to determine the CO2 emissions produced by your home energy use, auto transportation and air travel this year. Your donation to The Conservation Fund to offset your footprint will plant trees in national wildlife refuges across the country. You can also plant trees on behalf of family and friends, so give the gift of trees this holiday season! We can also help calculate the carbon footprint of your company’s operations and special events like conferences and holiday parties. Contact Alterra Hetzel for more information about corporate giving.

We are grateful to the many individuals, foundations and companies that support our carbon and climate projects through compliance-eligible offsets, voluntary emissions reductions and charitable contributions. Thank you for making a positive impact on our climate and in our communities.