The Truth about Trees and Pallets

In the 17th century when Europeans came to North America and discovered a new country covered in lush trees and forestland. It was estimated to be at least 1 billion acres.  But the starting of another nation required land to be cleared, lumber produced, and fuel consumed. At the end of the Civil War, the forest loggers and agricultural operations had cleared between 25 to 30 percent of the original standing trees and forestland. Some people were concerned that if the trend were to continue that by the 20th century this would result a "national crises of depleting all the sources of wood" and called for more strict conservation efforts. These efforts, combined with a decreased need for farmland, began to stem the tide. By 1920, forest acreage stopped declining, and it has remained relatively stable ever since.

In the USA, government owned land and managed property proved to be the best way to keep forests from complete depletion and to conserve and protect the forests. There are several Government departments responsible that are on a national, state and county level that can be the land owners of the forestland, although it is the USA federal government that is the holder of the largest portion of the property. Over 322 million acres, is government owned and it is designated as public forestland.

The multiple agencies responsible to manage this forest property include the following: U.S. Department of Agriculture, (USDA) Forest Service Bureau of Land Management, (FSBLM) the Fish and Wildlife Service, (FWS) and the National Park Service Management (NPSM) of federal land is influenced by federal government and legislation. President George W. Bush in 2003 signed what is called the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which contains a variety of provisions to protect federal forestland that is at risk of wildfire or insect and epidemic diseases.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), has numerous forest land companies participating in their program which provides them with a systematic set of principles, ethical guidelines and performance regulations that balance the continued growth and harvesting of trees with environmental protection and conservation in mind. The largest private owner of forestland property is International Paper. As they adhere to the SFI standards, their plan regenerates every acre harvested in less than two years by replanting of the removed timber, or within five years by natural reforestation.

On a smaller scale there are private forestland owners which are doing their part to protect forests as well. These family forestland owners can take advantage of what is called a conservation easement. What a conservation easement allows is the ability to restrict how a piece of property can be used, including protecting the land against future real estate building and development, to be designated as a property for industrial use and many potential commercial uses in which the owners do not wish for the land to be used as. The right to enforce the conservation easement is given to a government agency or to a charitable organization. These easements stay with the land and the restrictions remain on that property no matter who the owner is.

There is no other commonly-used material that requires so little energy to produce as wood. Thanks to photosynthesis, trees can use an abundant natural resource the sun as it captures CO2 in the air, combining it with water these plants get from the soil to produce an amazingly sustainable organic material, wood.

Wood pallets and packaging are naturally almost completely made from wood. So, you may be thinking lots of trees are getting cut down to make pallets when there are alternative materials available like plastic. It is true lots of trees are getting cut down, however it’s only the lowest grade portion of the tree that is used for pallets and packaging. The part of the tree isn’t suitable for flooring, cabinets or furniture, and the smaller diameter part of the tree is pulped and used for paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, and printing paper.

According to the CEI-BOIS, here is a great example of the real-life benefits of using wood over alternative materials: “For every single cubic meter of wood used as a substitute for other nonrenewable materials it reduces CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by an average of 1.1 ton CO2. If this is added to the 0.9 tons of CO2 stored in wood, each cubic meter of wood saves a total of 2 tons CO2 based on these figures.”  Therefore, wood is the best choice of material to be used for packaging materials as well as the ease of its ability to recycle.

North America’s forests are now growing at twice the rate of what is removed for consumer use. Americans use on average 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; which equals about 680 pounds per person.

Forestland owners are planting significantly more to further expand this forest cover, which has already grown by 11.3 million acres in just the last ten years, this is equal to the states of both New Hampshire and Vermont in size together. 1.7 billion trees are planted each year in the United States. This is more than five trees for every human being in America – an average of 4.8 million seedlings per day, assuring that the rapid expansion of forests will continue for the upcoming generations.

The world leader in sustainable forestry practices is the North American forest products industry. By having Forestland certification done by an organization like SFI this independent third-party can make an assessment to show which companies are operating in accordance with the principles of sustainable forest management that value the socio-economic and environmental contributions of forests.

The total size of managed forests in the US and Canada under the four internationally recognized forest certification programs American Tree Farm System (ATFS) , Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) , Forest Stewardship Council , and Sustainable Forestry Initiative  (SFI) in North America is 500 million acres. This represents nearly half of the certified forests in the world.

North American forestry management practices prevents deforestation and the other threats to biodiversity, so they do not occur here in the United States or in Canada.

When American environmentalists claim that the forests in the USA are being depleted it’s not true.