Reflections on Our Southern Forests

A beautiful piece by Dogwood Alliance boardmember Ginger Dollar reflecting on our Southern forests and why they need to be protected…

My family is about as southern as one can be settling parts of Georgia and some of Western North Carolina. I grew up surrounded by trees. From the gently, rolling hillsides of the Piedmont to the richly, diverse forests of southern Appalachia, I have fond memories of running through the woods and swinging on vines across multitudes of creeks, watching the leaves change color in the fall, playing in gigantic piles of leaves, taking comfort in the forests’ solitude and majestic being and watching with joy as the forests came alive every spring. Southern forests were a part of who we were as southerners that added daily value to our lives, not just from what we observed and experienced, but from the pollutants they filtered to help cool the climate and to clean the air, the soil and water.

Over the years, I have seen much of our beloved Southern forests devalued by massive unchecked development, roads, clear cuts, and pine plantations. As our population and consumption has exploded into an unsustainable fury, we are losing the very things that make life so wonderful on this planet. I joined the environmental movement as an attempt to do something to correct or at least slow down the path we have chosen as a society. The idea that we would destroy forests for the sake of paper and packaging is incredulous to me. Yet, the south has become the largest sourcing region for pulp in the world. We have amazing technology to make paper and packaging from our trash and a multitude of other plant fiber. And while more paper is being made from other sources and recycled material (thanks to organizations like Dogwood Alliance), Southern forests are still being sourced for virgin fiber.

There is no good reason for companies like KFC not to demand that their packaging be made from high content post-consumer paper. They have the buying power to make this demand and their paper supplier, , will either meet their demand or risk losing a multi-million dollar account. By creating an increased demand for recycled paper, more recycling plants and stations are needed, less paper ends up in the landfill, and all of this adds up to more jobs, less forests destroyed for paper, less fossil fuels used to clear-cut and transport destroyed forests, cleaner water, soil stays intact and fertile, and reduction in greenhouse gasses.

The rate of destruction to our Southern forests caused by the destructive practices of the pulp and paper industry can no longer be an option. These practices are unsustainable to our environment and economy. Dogwood Alliance has been trying to negotiate with Yum Foods, KFC’s parent company, for three years, and they haven’t budge nor has their supplier, , the leader in forest destruction. We need your help. Please go to this website,, to learn what you can do to help change KFC’s practice of using packaging that comes directly from our irreplaceable and precious Southern forests.

For the forests,

Ginger Dollar
Dogwood Alliance Board Member

Ginger riding in a triathalon

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