Sustainable Forest Management

The U.S. paper and wood products industry plays an important role in ensuring sustainable forest management and helping keep forests as forests. Today, one-third of the U.S. is forested, and there are more trees than there were on the first Earth Day celebration nearly 50 years ago. And, a 2017 report from the U.S. Forest Service indicates that more than one billion trees are planted in the United States each year.

More than half of U.S. forestlands are privately owned, and those working forests – actively and carefully managed to supply wood for harvest - supply more than 90 percent of the wood used to make paper and wood products. Demand for paper and wood products means continued demand for trees, which encourages forest landowners to grow and replant to ensure a supply – even in places where there are no trees now.

Benefits of Working Forests

Well-managed working forests provide environmental, social and economic benefits. Forests also sequester carbon and promote biodiversity.  Through sustainable forest management, tree farmers harvest and replant trees responsibly, taking into consideration wildlife, diversity of plant species and forests’ ability to create watersheds and sequester carbon.

  • Clean air: Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to sugars used for their growth. In the process, carbon is sequestered by the tree and oxygen is released as a byproduct.
  • Clean water: Rain falls on forests, where it is purified, stored and released to aquifers, which serve local communities. Nearly one-third of U.S. drinking water comes from forested land.
  • Habitats: U.S. forestlands can be home to deer, bats, wild turkeys, grouse, rabbits, red-tailed hawks, moose, bears and bobcats.
  • Biodiversity: Forests are home to the majority of terrestrial species—plants, animals and micro-organisms found on land. Biodiverse ecosystems allow species to interact with one another, enabling them to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain ecosystem functions.

Keeping Forests as Forests

To preserve the renewable resource, our member companies have long supported and followed sustainable forestry practices; the industry depends on sustainable forest growth.

More than 25 years ago, AF&PA members developed a sustainable forestry system, which became the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®, is now an independent non-profit organization), and AF&PA members who source from the forest agreed to adhere to a set of Sustainable Procurement Principles. AF&PA members use standards and methods developed and maintained by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFCTM) and SFI®.

To meet customer demands, as well as our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainable forestry goal, our members use their role in the supply chain as purchasers of harvested logs to increase sourcing from certified forestlands and through certified fiber sourcing programs.

By insisting the wood fiber they procure is sustainably grown, harvested and replanted, our members are investing in the future of forests, ensuring they will be plentiful for future generations and supporting a sustainable business model.