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Arbor Day, FSC and America’s wood basket

Arkansas, Sikes Farm.
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There’s one day a year when trees around the world receive the extra love they deserve. It’s Arbor Day, which, this year falls on April 28th in the US.

People are encouraged to plant trees on Arbor Day. Or simply take care of trees that are already standing. It’s one of the best things they can do for the environment, given the important role of trees in cleaning our air and water, providing habitat for wildlife, mitigating climate change, and so much more.

For Stacey Locke and Donna Janssen, every day is Arbor Day. They both help their families manage tree farms in Arkansas. These are important tree farms, as they are managed in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards—considered by WWF and many others to be the benchmark for responsible forest practices.

Stacey and Donna are at the forefront of a quickly growing movement to increase FSC-certified land in the southeastern US. Known as the “wood basket,” the region is the source of nearly 60 percent of the fiber used to make paper in the US. And most of it comes from relatively small tracts of land, like those managed by Stacey and Donna.

Since 2014, more than 500 landowners in the southeast have followed in their footsteps—for a total of 500,000 FSC-certified acres in the region. WWF and two companies that use the pulp from the land to make paper, toilet paper and other products—Domtar and Procter & Gamble—initiated and support this work.

You can help support forests on Arbor Day, and every day, by purchasing products that have the FSC logo.

 

Why FSC-certified forests matter

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Trees and other plants in FSC-certified forests help keep our air clean by soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When trees are cut down, deforested land becomes a source of harmful greenhouse gases instead of serving as an important “sink” that absorbs carbon dioxide.

 

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FSC-certified forests help keep our rivers clean by restricting the use of highly hazardous chemicals and reducing erosion. Forests also help ensure we have enough water. Trees and plants soak up rainwater, store it underground and release it during dry times of the year.

 

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Many people turn to beautiful forests to find balance in their lives. The views, smells and sounds provide them with a sense of calmness.

 

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This “turkey tail” fungus is one of many plants that thrive in FSC-certified forests in the southeast. Bears, mountain lions and other wildlife also call these forests home. Eighty percent of the world’s known terrestrial plant and animal species live in forests. FSC standards help protect species at risk of becoming threatened or endangered.

 

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Jean and Bob Torrans, brother and sister, were among the first landowners in the southeastern US to receive FSC certification for their land. They belong to the Four States Timberland Owners Association, managed by Domtar, which enables small and large-scale landowners to aggregate holdings with other members of the association in order to become FSC-certified.