By Richard Romano on March 18th, 2013
WhatTheyThink’s Going Green has joined forces with Two Sides to help address the “perceptions” that paper destroys forests, that electronic media are “greener” than print and paper, and that recycling is the solution to all environmental ills.
“Whose woods these are I think I know…” Well, maybe not. According to a 2008 report (via a story in Forest History Today), it is estimated that “Of the 751 million acres of forestland in the United States, 56 percent is privately owned, and of this, nearly two-thirds is owned by families and individuals.”
Why Should You Care?
So it’s not the government or even the forestry industry that owns the bulk of the forestland in the U.S., but private individuals, who may have their own agendas when it comes to managing or not managing the lands they control—or selling them entirely to real estate developers. The danger to forests lies not in those sustainably producing forest products (the key word being “sustainably), but in ensuring that the owners of those forests don’t have ample motivation to dump them. Solutions?
Conservation easements—the voluntary sale of development rights for perpetuity—keep the land in forest cover while allowing private ownership. But conservation easements are not a viable option for many owners: either there is no one willing to pay them for their development rights, or they do not want to cede total control (American Forest Foundation 2010). Currently, fewer than 2 percent of owners have conservation easements (Butler 2008). Other tools, such as education, technical assistance, property tax relief, strong markets, and others must also be used.
For more Two Sides facts see http://www.twosides.us/mythsandfacts.