The importance of Florida forests

Dear Editor:

People in this area understand the significance of Florida’s forests. We are blessed to live in the heart of our state’s woodlands. Many of our families, like our own, have a rich history and heritage in the forest industry. Many more, again like our own, are proud to be counted in the 124,000 Floridians who work in forestry today. But sometimes even we don’t always fully appreciate the extent of the impact of forests on our economy, our environment and our everyday life.

Florida forests provide a $25 billion boost to the state’s economy. An economic study by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) show forestry and forest products to be a top agricultural commodity and leading agricultural export. They make jobs possible not only for those of us directly involved in forestry, but also for those up and down the supply chain in a wide variety of areas.

In a state experiencing constant development, our forests also offer much-needed green spaces that provide a wide variety of important environmental services: improving the quality and quantity of our water supply, filtering the air, sequestering carbon, offering habitat to an amazing diversity of wildlife and plants, and simply providing beautiful natural areas where people can take a deep breath and appreciate the peace and quiet only a forest can give.

They are, in short, the solution to many of the issues that Florida faces today.

Florida’s forestland owners and other forest professionals use sustainable land management practices developed with sound science. They not only protect the environment, they also prevent the growth and spread of invasive species, pests and diseases. They make a good thing even better.

We are proud to be part of a community of dedicated individuals connected by a commitment to Florida’s forests. We understand the importance of serving as good stewards for these vital resources, working hard today to create an even better tomorrow.

This week (October 31 – November 6) is Florida Forests Week. Please join us in spreading awareness of the importance of our state’s forest lands.

Jimmy Bielling, Phillip Pritchett and Avery Roberts