One of life’s greatest wonders are trees. For over 27 years I have been fortunate living in the woods backing to the George Washington National Forest outside Edinburg, Virginia. Enjoying splendid forest cover I have developed a profound appreciation for trees.
According to legend the first settlers thought they had found the “garden of Eden” and it was first called “Edenburg”. Years ago it was the home of this country’s first Civilian Conservation Corps in the center of the Shenandoah Valley. 85 years ago Franklin Roosevelt kick off one of his greatest New Deal programs here. Two million men were employed and planted almost three billion trees. Camp Roosevelt was were this Depression era revitalization program (http://www.ccclegacy.org/
Camp_Roosevelt_68B9.php) . Further west from where I live is where the seventh CCC camp was built in Wolf Gap.
It has been estimated that about 5 billion acres of forest landscapes have been degraded. The annual economic benefits of restoring this land are an estimated $84 billlion dollars. In 2016 over 73 million acres of forest was lost due to climate change, development, disease, fire and other factors. This was a 51 percent increase from 2015. In July 2017, 66 million trees sampling were planted by volunteers in India in 12 hours. Brazil, New Zealand and others have goals of collectively planting several billion trees in the next few years.
The timber sectors generate over $600 billion dollars and 54 million jobs worldwide. However tree’s economic contribution are much greater sinces its larger impact is unreported due to both environmental and the informal factors. For example the wood fuel industry creates work for tens of millions in wood collection, transportation, charcoal, retail and transportation. The demand for timber is reported to quadruple by 2050. In 2014 the World Bank estimates that sustainable forest management is estimated to be between $70 billion and $160 billion dollars per year globally.
The GW forest acts as a huge water treatment system purifying our drinking water. For example, water resources in the George Washington National Forest serve an estimated 8,452 residents just within the Shenandoah County. Yearly our GW Forest generated billions of dollars in timber, tourism, and other environmental benefits.
This valley’s forest acts as a giant filtration system for the entire larger watershed helping purify our water, air and land. In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people. Also trees lessens nature’s runoff and holds soil in place while filtering pollutants and recharging our earth. Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.
We all profit from pollution prevention by new forests. Planting trees we collectively tap into a expanded forms of well-being. Easter Island is a reminder of what happens when trees go then people perish. New tree growth creates new community and possibilities. New forest are not just a return on our investment, however, a greater return of our investment. Let’s invest in new samplings for our prosperity.