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Forests are ecosystems comprised of trees, other plants, animals, and surrounding natural resources.  For many, the land provides a chance for leisure activities. Beyond presenting recreational opportunities, forests offer vital economic and environmental benefits.

Importance of Forests

The forestry industry supports over 1.6 million workers in a market worth over $50 billion dollars, but forests provide much more than materials for lumber and paper. Increasingly, scientists are recognizing that forests play a critical role in climate change, absorbing as much as 14 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions each year. The country’s woodlands serve vital environmental and economic needs by providing:

  • Habitat for plants and animals
  • Recreational  opportunities
  • Tourist revenue of some $11 billion each year for surrounding businesses and communities
  • A natural mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases
  • Raw materials for bioenergy production
  • Opportunities for farmers to practice agroforestry — a land use practice that combines crop production with that of timber and other tree-based products

NIFA’s Impact

NIFA projects are working to restore the health of the nation’s forests by:

  • Expanding knowledge of forest ecosystems
  • Reducing the risk of destructive wildfires and restoring forest health
  • Implementing sustainable practices designed to restore and maintain forest health
  • Fostering a globally competitive forest resources sector
  • Preparing the nation’s forests to adapt to a changing climate
  • Increasing carbon dioxide sequestration technologies to mitigate climate change
  • Educating farmers and landowners about sustainable forest practices and forest farming
  • Teaching future forestry professionals

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