October 19th, 2011 by

Credit: Adriano Aurelio Araujo

Good question, but allow me to first introduce myself. I’m Amanda, and I’ve been a member of the American Forests team for two years. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, working in environmental policy has built my appreciation for the hard work that goes into restoring and protecting the land we enjoy. I’ll be providing policy blog posts and discussions every Wednesday.

Even though I’ve been working with environmental policy for the past few years, I don’t know everything there is to know about it. It’s easy to get lost in D.C. politics with all the bills, acronyms and political jargon being thrown around. Let’s face it; most people couldn’t be bothered with reading a 200-page bill. People want to know how something is going to directly affect them. So what is forest policy, and how does it affect us?

Forest policy is the relationship between people and the natural world. It’s a delicate balancing act. If you’ve ever gone on a hike in the woods, you know that forests are beautiful places, but they offer us a whole lot more than just good looks. They also provide wildlife habitat, wood products, medicine, carbon storage, clean drinking water and a host of other benefits. The environment gives to us, but we also need to give back to the environment. In order to continue getting those benefits, we need to be good stewards and responsibly manage our forests. This is what forest policy is all about.

Forest policy consists of the laws and regulations that guide the protection and management of our nation’s forests. Forest policies help maintain healthy forest ecosystems, which are essential for working towards a sustainable future and improving our quality of life.

It may not be something that we think about every day, but policies that manage forests and our environment do have an effect on us. Did you know that all of the natural resources we use have forest origins? For example, as part of the Clean Water Act, cities use tree coverage to improve water quality and help with storm water runoff management.

I’m not expecting everyone to go out and read through the conservation title of the Farm Bill, but perhaps the next time you take a sip of water or write on a piece of paper, you’ll stop to think about the forest that it came from and the policies protecting that forest.