Over One Million Acres of
Forests Saved. And Counting.
America’s forests are renowned for their beauty. But they’re disappearing. 96% of our original one billion acres of virgin forests have been cut down. Just over the last thirty years, 36 million acres of America’s forests have been supplanted by parking lots, roads, and new developments. Over two million acres of farm and forestland are lost annually. And that’s leaving America vulnerable, in ways that may surprise some.
Most don’t consider the economic impact of razing forests. But the costs are substantial. Raw materials to build the next generation of homes and other necessities are lost forever. So are jobs, especially in rural communities. Think about this. 8.6 million American jobs are dependent on our forests and their reforestation. That’s almost as many Americans working in the automotive industry. And many of those jobs are high paying jobs in rural areas.
Trees act as nature’s filtration system to soak up rainfall and release it back into streams and rivers to remove sediments and pollutants. 70% of the water America consumes comes from rivers, lakes, and streams protected and filtered by our forests. That’s water for 200 million Americans and nearly 70,000 communities. Studies have even correlated lower water treatment costs with higher presence of forests in a source watershed.
More cars, factories, oil, and coal production are all adding up to excess CO2 in our atmosphere. The excess CO2 forms an invisible layer around the planet keeping heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere resulting in global warming and climate change. Forests are one of the most effective defenses against climate change. Trees absorb excess CO2, removing carbon and releasing oxygen back into the air. American forests alone sequester over one hundred million tons of CO2 annually. To put that in perspective, in one year, an acre of trees can absorb the same amount of CO2 generated by driving a car 26,000 miles. Nothing else in nature comes close. Trees also cool the air through shade and evapotranspiration. As trees release water vapor through their leaves, the surrounding air is cooled, helping offset rising temperatures.
Trees provide the oxygen we breathe. One acre of trees can convert enough CO2 to provide air for eighteen people to breathe for a year. Trees also act as nature’s air filter through particulate matter capture, keeping ash, smoke, nitrogen oxide, ammonia, and ozone out of our lungs. That benefits humans as well as all of earth’s ecosystems.
Since Colcom’s inception, saving America’s forests has been one of the foundation’s top priorities. Forests are vital to the country’s environmental sustainability as well as the economic interests of over eight million Americans. That’s why we’re proud to have helped protect over one million acres of forests. And we’re just getting started. Working together to save America’s forests will allow us all to breathe a little easier.