For the past 2000 years, paper has established itself as an incredibly effective and versatile means of communication. Despite computers, cell phones, the internet and other electronic devices, paper has demonstrated its value time and time again. The folks at Domtar have put out great new piece, The Truth in Paper, that dispells the myths around paper and its environmental impact.
Paper is portable, secure, consistent and permanent. But perhaps most of all – paper is extremely effective.
myth: making paper destroys forests.
fact: no, in fact the opposite is true.
Paper is made from cellulose fiber, which generally comes from trees, but this doesn’t automatically equate to the destruction of forests. Companies like Domtar source their primary raw material from the forest, therefore it is in their best interest to ensure sustainability for the company’s long-term survival.
The concept of managed forests means that for every tree harvested, several more are planted or naturally regenerated in their place. In fact, according to the USDA Forest Service, four million trees are planted every day in the United States. Of this amount, the wood and paper products industry plants on average 1.7 million trees, excluding millions of
additional seedlings regenerated naturally. Increasing demand for forest products has provided powerful incentive for private landowners to reforest their harvest.
According to The State of America’s Forests, a report released by the Society of American Foresters, replanting and reforestation efforts have helped keep forestland stable. There are nearly 750 million acres of forests in the U.S. —about the same as 100 years ago. Annual net growth of U.S. forests is 36 percent higher than the volume of annual tree removals. Total forest cover in the U.S. and Canada basically remained the same from 1990 to 2005.
Sustainable forests are also carefully managed to help prevent catastrophic damage from fires, disease and insects. It is also important to remember that the majority of the forest provides
non- paper products. Lumber is used for building houses and furniture, while tree-based chemicals are used in products such as turpentine, chewing gum and toothpaste. In addition, a well-managed forest provides many recreational opportunities such as hiking, hunting, camping, fishing and bird watching.
“When people use more paper, suppliers plant more trees. If we want bigger commercial forests, then we should use more paper not less. Our policies should directly protect important wildlife habitats, not try to reduce our demand for paper.’’
Edward L. Glaeser,
Professor of Economics at Harvard University