- Diseases and insects, both native and foreign, are weakening and destroying forests across the country, even driving some species to the edge of extinction.
- With increased human activity and shifting climate patterns, we are seeing more frequent and intense wildfires, many of which can damage forests beyond the point of natural regeneration.
- Invasive plant species, which have few natural controls in our country, are overtaking native ecosystems, and driving out native plant and animal species.
- Increased development has led to loss of biodiversity and fragmentation of ecosystems and habitats.
- Mismanagement and unsustainable forestry practices are diminishing forests around the world faster than they can be regrown.
Why We Care
Forests are one of the most valuable resources on the planet. They provide us with so many of the basic elements we need to survive: water, air, fertile soil, food, medicine and more. The issues outlined here threaten not just forests, but every form of life that relies on what they provide, including humans.
Many of these threats feed off of one another, creating phenomenon that have caused deforestation to spiral out of control. In our nation’s western forests, for instance, the combination of shifting climate patterns, wildfires, and pine beetle infestations have brought down millions of acres of forests in just a few short years. In other cases, a single issue can grow so serious that it can destroy the same amount of forested land. Over the next two decades, almost 22 million acres of private forested land will be turned into housing developments – all within 10 miles of National Forests.
Each threat to forests requires us to take a unique approach to solving it. For some projects, we work to replant trees that are resistant to whatever diseases are threatening their species, as we have for American Chestnuts and whitebark pines. For others, we help support tree plantings in burned-over areas that have little chance of regenerating on their own after a wildfire (such as the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Reforestation Project). determine which sections of a burn area have the least chance to regenerate on their own after a wildfire.
Other issues can be addressed more efficiently through policy than tree planting, trying to prevent future problems as well as fixing current ones. This approach has led to our efforts in advocating for sustainable forest management, economic incentives for landowners to keep their property forested, and recognition of forests as water resources.
- View our tree plantings to alleviate the effects of forest threats
- Learn more about our forest threats policy work here
What You Can Do
- Educate yourself on the threats to forests, and spread the word to your community about the different ways you can work together to protect and restore your local forests.
- Write to your representatives in local and national government and let them know that you’re concerned about forests. Check out this toolkit [coming soon] for ideas.
- Stay in the loop about current threats to forests in your area and on the national level. Subscribe to Forest Files (our e-newsletter), Forest Community News, and Policy Updates.
- Contribute to American Forests as an organization to help us continue working to protect forests against all the threats they face.