No matter where we live, whether in the city or in rural areas, forests and open space play an important role in our lives. Every day, we use a diverse array of forest products, from the houses we live in, to the paper we use, to the food we eat. Forests provide economic opportunities as well as many indirect benefits, such as clean air and water. Forests and open space also offer invaluable recreational opportunities, providing us with a healthy sense of well-being. Life without forests and open space would be unimaginable. We must take care to sustainably manage our natural resources to meet current and future needs. This is one of the main goals of the Forest Service.
Urban and community forests include all publicly and privately owned trees within an urban or community area, such as public gardens, street trees, urban parks, landscaped boulevards and river and coastal promenades, among others. They make up an important component of America’s green infrastructure, supporting the health and function of cities and towns through the services that they provide. Acknowledging the ecological, economic, and social benefits of these forests, the Forest Service is dedicated to helping cities transition to a sustainable future.
The benefits that forests, grasslands, and other natural areas provide us are known as ecosystem services. It can be easy to take these free services for granted. The Forest Service is contributing to improved valuation and preservation of these services. By working on markets for ecosystem services and measuring and monitoring them, the Forest Service aims to improve decision-making that affects the use of ecosystem services.
Outdoor recreation contributes greatly to the well-being of Americans – getting outside has been proven to have psychological, physical, social, and economic benefits. Understanding its important role in providing recreational opportunities, the Forest Service carefully assesses the status of, and trends in, outdoor recreation. In order to continue providing recreation opportunities that citizens value, we need to understand how demands on our natural resources will change in the future and manage accordingly.