Sustainable Forestry

I believe we can all be proud to say that we are the Evergreen State, in part because of the private investment in forestlands, not only for their economic values, but for the environmental values they protect, and the cultural value important to our rural resource-based communities.

- Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire

Washington Forestland Ownership Overview

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Working forests are our greatest natural resource.

Working Forests Working forests are a remarkable and important natural resource. They are a source of clean water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. They create important jobs in rural communities. These forests also store carbon in their trees, and in the wood products that come from trees—reducing the amount of harmful emissions in our earth's atmosphere. Working forests also supply renewable biomass used to create green energy.

Private forest landowners maintain this valuable natural resource through sustainable forest practices. Working forests yield environmentally friendly products and alternative energy resources. These, in turn, create green jobs that are important to our state's economy and environment.

These wonderful working forests are truly our greatest natural resource.

Private Forest Lands: Managed for Sustainability

Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide us with energy and materials.

- Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace

Managed for Sustainability There are over 22 million acres of forestland in Washington State, more than half of the total land base. About two-thirds of these forests are managed by the government, while about a third are privately owned. Yet, in an average year, private forestlands supply more than 70% of the timber that is harvested to produce wood products.

According to the Department of Natural Resources only about 2% of commercial forestland is being harvested at any given time. This means that throughout the state, for every 100 acres, 98 are growing a new forest every year. When trees are harvested, on average, three seedlings are planted for each tree harvested to start the next generation of forests.

Policy: Sustainable Forestry Certification

The United States' forestry regulations boast the highest environmental standards in the world. However, many of the forests around the world lack North America's strong governance. While many landowners find value in third-party certification programs, the world's forests would especially benefit from participation in third-party certification programs. Currently, about 10% of the world's forests are certified, and 40% of these certified lands are in North America. While a variety of forest certification programs are recognized in the marketplace, they all seek to assure the consumer that the wood and paper products we use come from responsibly managed sustainable forests. Public policy should provide incentives for participation in third-party certification systems while leaving it to the landowner to choose which system works for their individual circumstance.