5 Reasons West Virginia’s Forests Are Important.
West Virginia might be known as the Mountain State, but when you really think about it you could also call it the Forest State. With more than 12 million acres of forest covering its hilly terrain, our state is 78 percent forested. That makes West Virginia the third most forested state in the entire country.
But forests aren’t just a bunch of trees that cover our mountains and shade our back yards. They play an important role in West Virginia’s economy ecosystem. The house you live in, the game you like to hunt, the parks you enjoy visiting and even the water you drink and air you breathe all depend on forests.
If you’ve never thought about forests like that, here’s 5 things that’ll remind you why West Virginia’s forests matter.
Forests protect the environment
Without forests, our planet would look quite different. Because trees give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, our planet’s atmosphere and climate are delicately balanced, thus creating a perfect environment for life. Trees that grow are good trees because they soak up human-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, roots and leaves. Forests also provide habitat for wildlife and play an important role in the water cycle. Without them, our environment wouldn’t be able to sustain life.
Forests create jobs
Forests and related industries employ more than 30,000 people in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties and contributes more than $3 billion to our state’s economy each year. There are traditional forestry jobs, but several companies around the state directly rely on forests, like the Kingsford Charcoal plant in Parsons, the Facemyer Lumber sawmill in Ripley. And there’s still room to grow. Did you know West Virginia’s forests are growing faster than they are being harvested?
Forest provide valuable wood products
West Virginia is one of the top wood-producing states in the nation with more than 700 million board feet of lumber coming out of our forests each year. Lumber is used to make wood products for commercial and consumer applications. This includes furniture for your home to industrial pallets, boxes and crates — even charcoal and sawdust. And trees are the only renewable natural resource, so forests are extremely valuable to our economy. When a tree is cut, more can be planted, and West Virginia’s foresters adhere to the most stringent regulations in our region to make sure our forests are properly managed for future generations.
Forests promote tourism
Think about your favorite place to travel in West Virginia. Got a good mental image? Do you see all the trees? Many of West Virginia’s top tourism destinations are forested. From state parks and forests to adventure resorts, forestry and tourism in West Virginia exist side-by-side. Having acres of forestland that are conserved, protected and managed, allows people to enjoy hunting, fishing and hiking, foliage tours and other outdoor recreation. So, next time you take a trip in West Virginia, take some time to appreciate the trees.
Forests are our home
For generations, West Virginians have built homes and communities among our state’s forests. We depend directly on forests for shelter, food, medicine and livelihoods. Because West Virginia’s forests are home to many, we should care about them and take care of them, ensuring they are properly managed and utilized.
These are just a few of the reasons why forests matter. Learn more about West Virginia’s forests or forestry in general by following @wvforestry on Facebook and Twitter.