Here at SunDance, we’re all about doing our part for the environment. We try to live sustainably. There’s a misconception in the world that we should be shifting away from paper and forest products as climate change looms. However, that kind of thinking is sadly misguided. Trees make oxygen, take in CO2. If climate change is being led by CO2 emissions, we shouldn’t be cutting down trees, right? Well, it’s more complicated than that. We actually have more trees today in the US than 100 years ago, yes, you read that right!
Happy Arbor Day!
There’s an old Greek proverb that says “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”. It is here where we can find the heart of Arbor Day. Arbor Day was founded in 1872 in Nebraska as a way to promote homesteaders to plant trees to help with soil erosion problems and to grow sources of fuel for their homes. What started as a local effort eventually grew and in 1907 president Theodore Roosevelt issued a national proclamation about the importance of trees and forestry to be taught in schools. By the 1910s, most of states and American territories had adopted Arbor Day as a holiday on the last Friday during April. Today Arbor Day celebrations vary across the US based on best growing season and time, but overall Arbor Day is celebrated worldwide the last Friday in April.
150 years later, Arbor Day is known for being the day to plant a tree, with goodie bags of small trees being given out to students at schools across the nation. It’s often overshadowed by Earth Day on April 22nd each year, but it’s a holiday worth celebrating and acknowledging, especially on a monumental anniversary as 150 years driving forest and land management appreciation.
When it comes to trees, the most common paper trees in the south USA are the Loblolly and Shortleaf pine trees. You’ll also see Longleaf and Slash pines grown as well. A group of pine trees together is called a stand. Because of land management practices, pine stand plantations are actually more productive and more sustainable than a traditional pine forest. In the southern US, these pine plantations are only about 18% of total forest area, and yet they produce 47% of all softwood volume in the south! By using good land management practices, foresters are able to use less land and produce more paper, all while keeping established forests intact.
Compared to the number of forests in the US in 1900, the United States has millions more hectares of forest now (1 hectare is about the same size as a soccer field between the goal posts, or about 2.5 acres). We’ve gone from 36% of land in the US forested to 40% in the past 100 years. Our forests are not usually being cut down for timber, but instead due to population growth and urban redevelopment.
While 67% of forest land is legally available for harvest activities, tree cutting and removal occurs on less than 2% of forest land per year. Annually 3% of land is disturbed by natural events like insects, disease, and fire. Paper production does not affect our current forests much at all anymore, and in North America, paper is recycled more than any other recyclable product. And when we need to make more paper, well, our foresters have it covered.
Arbor Day is a time of reflection for our forests and our environment. Here at SunDance, we work every day to find new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and only use what we need. We’re proud of our partnerships with SGP and by offering our clients FSC/SFI certified paper products for their needs. And we’re proud of our own recycling efforts here with over 200 metric tons of paper alone recycled in 2021.