As printed in FSM’s newsletter, Forest View, Spring 2018.
Forest habitat is working to make your quality of life better 24/7 whether you live near woods or hundreds of miles away. If you live near the woods you may see firsthand how forests are beneficial, but if you live in a city you may find yourself wondering how forestland, particularly forestland hours away, benefits you. Perhaps you aren’t an avid hiker, fisherman, nature-watcher, or outdoor enthusiast, and that’s okay.
It is widely recognized that everyone benefits from undeveloped habitat, like forests or wetlands. These benefits, whether direct or indirect, are referred to as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are services provided by nature essentially for free that we would otherwise have to pay for. Clean water is one example. Forests filter out pollutants and particulates so that citizens pay less to treat their drinking water. Another way tree-covered landscapes help is by soaking up rainwater, releasing it slowly over time and reducing the amount of runoff that causes rivers and streams to flood. The forest upstream from you may be keeping your cellar dry.
Forestland everywhere provides carbon storage, temperature moderation and cleaner air, maintenance of productive soils, wildlife habitat, and a renewable source of fuel and fiber. These benefits are local and regional, and even global.
There are many tangible products we use daily that come from forests. Toothpicks, for instance, toilet paper, rolling pins, baseball bats, furniture, and Popsicle sticks, are made from trees. Many people heat their homes with wood–either firewood or pellets. Most of us use paper on a regular basis, even in the computer era. Millions of forested acres in Maine mean some products are grown, harvested, and produced right in our own backyard providing local jobs for our fellow Mainers.
We rely on forestland for a healthier environment, jobs, resources (like wood products), wildlife habitat, and a place to recreate and relax. Forests play an important role in many aspects of our lives and thanks to our supporters the Forest Society of Maine has helped conserve more than one million acres of Maine’s forestland that continues to provide these benefits for all of us.