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From Trees to Paper – And the Many Benefits Our National Forests Provide

Thomas Scibek
U.S. Forest Service National Printing Officer
May 16, 2017 at 1:30pm

Our national forest lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service offer many benefits. For instance, they provide great recreation, beautiful vistas to take-in nature and help keep our air and water clean. Trees have been on earth for millions of years and provide today’s society with many useful products, such as building materials, firewood and paper.

And our national forests are a great economic benefit to our country as well.

In some national forests, trees are allowed to be harvested for commercial use. The amount harvested is approximately 190,000 acres out of the 193 million acres in all Forest Service lands.

The harvested trees are sent to lumber mills to be cut into wood boards for building all sorts of things like houses, schools, or furniture. Seedlings are then planted to insure a sustainable forest remains.

But since the word paper is in the headline of this blog, by this point, you might be asking what does all this national forest stuff have to do with paper?

For starters, the woodchips, sawdust and scraps of wood that are waste material for the lumber mills are often shipped to paper mills to be made into, well, paper. In fact, much of the paper in use today comes from the wood chips left over from lumber mills. It’s at the paper mills that the wood waste is processed into paper, helping to preserve the environment from unnecessary landfill waste. 

It’s pretty obvious to most folks that paper is extremely important to our economy and has many uses. Indeed, despite all the new flashy digital technologies out there, paper is still one of the best choices to keep a permanent record of communication. In addition, most everyone who ships a package does so in containers made of cardboard with goods wrapped in paper.

When you spend a moment or two thinking about it you can come up with so many ways we use paper every day!

This everyday use of paper makes it a recyclable product that keeps on giving. In fact, over 66 percent of all paper products were recycled in 2015, with a goal of reaching 70 percent by 2020. This makes paper the leading recycled material in the U.S., and perhaps the world.

A photo of Rolls of paper being prepared for printing.

Rolls of paper being prepared for printing. (iStock image.)

A photo of Logs stacked in rows before being cut into products

Logs are stacked in rows before being cut into products like 2x4s for home building materials. (iStock image.)


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