Ten facts you didn’t know about forests

Almost 150 years ago, American Forests was founded on the idea that forests are essential to the health and well-being of people and the planet. But how do forests provide all these benefits? Here are 10 ways that forests work their carbon-sequestering magic, both in large landscapes and your neighborhood: 

Carbon capturing

  1. The power of one tree
    One mature tree in a forest can capture the same amount of carbon emissions as driving one car 1,500 miles! We cannot slow climate change without reforesting America at a faster pace.
  1. It’s in the soil
    Forest soils hold 58% of the carbon in forests, which is more than all the carbon stored in trees and forest products combined.
  1. Wood from trees stores carbon
    Forest products currently store more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. That is equal to the carbon emissions from driving more than 21 million cars for one year.

Hands sand the body of a guitar

Fender Musical Instruments knows the importance of protecting the species that produce the wood that is transformed into their stunning guitars, including this 2014 American Standard.
Photo Credit: Fender Musical Instruments

  1. Forests release carbon when destroyed
    Forests release carbon when they are destroyed by wildfires or removed to make way for new buildings, roads, farms and ranches.

Benefits for cities

  1. Trees are life-saving infrastructure
    Our health, wealth and general well-being depend in part on having trees all around us—from our backyards to large forests. Trees across the U.S. absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants, preventing 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms annually. 
  1. There are jobs in forestry
    Trees are a source of income from jobs related to tree maintenance and making products out of reclaimed wood. 25 forest-related jobs are created for every $1 million invested in urban forestry. That number is 40 for jobs related to larger forest landscapes. 

Andressohn works for True Tree Service in Miami, where he is a production arborist, trained to safely ascend and descend trees in order to care for them. Our cities need many more like him. Urban forestry is expected to see a 10% increase in job openings for entry-level positions by 2028.
Photo Credit: Day's Edge Productions / American Forests.

  1. Trees lower utility bills
    Nationwide in the U.S., trees reduce energy use for heating and cooling by 7.2%, on average. 

Trees and water

  1. Forests and water are intertwined
    Our drinking water supply is at risk. Scientists predict that nearly half of the freshwater basins in the U.S. may not be able to meet the monthly demand for water by 2071—partly due to the decline in forest health. Jeopardizing the quantity and quality of our water supply is particularly concerning, given that our population is increasing. 
  1. Forests keep our water clean
    55% of America’s drinking water originates from forests—mainly the rivers and streams that run through them. Every 10% increase in forest cover in a watershed leads to a 20% decrease in costs for water treatment downstream. 
  1. Forests save money
    When forests are healthy, we don’t have to spend as much money on water filtration. Filtration provided by just one national forest (Wayne National Forest in Ohio) is valued at more than $3 million annually. 

What you can do to help forests

American Forests is helping create healthy and resilient forests that can continue providing these benefits. We help ensure that forests in large landscapes are healthy and resilient to the impacts of climate change. In cities, we develop and implement plans for planting and caring for trees in the neighborhoods that need them most. We rely on our partners and supporters like you to advance solutions that protect forests for the future. Sign up for our newsletter, give to American Forests or take action for trees today.