During Florida’s Working Forests Week (October 16-21, 2017) remember the many environmental and economic benefits we receive from our forests. Almost half of Florida (17.2 million acres) is forested. Florida’s forests provide 124,000 jobs and they have a total economic impact of $25 billion on our state’s economy. In Florida, agriculture is the second largest sector of the economy and forestry is the largest segment within the agricultural sector.
Over 5,000 items we use every day contain forest products in the form of wood, cellulose fiber or chemicals extracted from trees. These items include home building materials, paper, cell phone screens, cosmetics, medicines, explosives, car tires, sporting equipment, food and much more. The ecological and economic benefits we receive from our forests improve the quality of our lives. To maintain our forests and the renewable resources they provide, we plant over 70 million trees in Florida every year. We put out damaging wildfires. We set beneficial prescribed fires and thin over crowded timber stands.
In addition to economic benefits, our forests provide us with beauty, habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities, soil conservation and more. Water. All over the Earth we see forested watersheds producing the highest quality water for the greatest amounts of time. Florida is facing water quality and quantity issues that can be partly mitigated by our forests. Clean Air. Trees take carbon out of the air. Half of the dry weight of wood is carbon that was carbon dioxide in the air. Oxygen that was part of the carbon dioxide is set free for us to breath as the carbon gets locked up in trees. Forests also help to keep the air cooler by intercepting sunlight and releasing water vapor.
A free Working Forests Week presentation will be given at the Lake Panssoffkee Community Library, 1500 CR 459, Lake Panasoffkee, FL 33538 on Monday, October 16, 2017 from 6 to 6:30 pm. If you have questions please contact the Florida Forest Service’s Sumter County Forester, Arthur Clothier, at (352) 793-2431.