Forest Destruction & Deforestation Brought to You by the Paper and Energy Industries
The Southern US is currently the largest wood producing region in the world, accounting for approximately 15% of the paper products produced worldwide. Large paper producers and wood products hold broad economic, social and political influence over the management of the South’s forests. These large, industrial paper companies are engaged in unsustainable forestry practices, such as logging endangered forests, large-scale clearcutting and deforestation, the conversion of natural forests to sterile tree plantations and the heavy use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides. These practices not only destroy the region’s rich biological heritage and contribute to global warming, but also degrade the socioeconomic well-being of rural communities.
According to the US Forest Service, nearly six million acres of forests are clear-cut every year for paper production. That number is projected to double should a full-scale bioenergy industry move into the South, an industry that relies on Southern US deforestation to provide electricity to Europe. Included in that mix are some of our region’s last remaining endangered forests. Unsustainable forestry has already pushed 14 forest community types to less than 2% of their original range. Additionally, the Southern US has the highest number of endangered species in the continental US.
There are nearly 43 million acres of our forests are sterile pine plantations and countless pounds of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have been dumped on these plantations harming human health, wildlife and water quality. In fact, there has been an 800% increase in the use of chemical fertilizers in plantations since 1990. Again these numbers are projected to double if bioenergy goes into full-scale production.
Mix in climate change, impacts on water quality, and quality of life issues, and we have a recipe for disaster.