By Jon Schwedler, The Nature Conservancy
Most people know that America’s forests clean our air and provide water (for example, half the nation’s water supply comes from forests).
But besides these life-giving services, healthy forests also allow Americans to make a living. And most of these folks aren’t the Paul Bunyan lumberjack types of yore; these are workers in the hospitality, retail, recreation, construction, and energy businesses. They’re even maple syrup farmers, like David Marvin, with the Vermont Maple Sugar Company.
Can you imagine a pancake breakfast without maple syrup? It might surprise you to know that maple sugar farmers are worried about the future of maple trees, which are at risk from the dual threats of Asian longhorned beetle and climate change.
“As a forester and landowner and as a sugar maker I worry about any threat,” he said. “Recently I am more concerned about the dramatic events we’ve been seeing, two years in a row of forest tent caterpillar outbreaks, last year Tropical Storm Irene, ten years ago Hurricane Floyd, and two years before that the ice storm. These dramatic events sometimes make me go to the woods with a heavy heart.”
He says Asian longhorned beetle is another concern, since it prefers maple to any other species.
While these threats are a concern, the public has the potential to contain them. We can all help in small ways, whether it is conserving energy, not moving firewood even if it just a few miles, and planting responsibly in our gardens.
“Individually it is about awareness to make sure people understand their actions do make a difference for good or ill,” Marvin said. “We all have to take our own responsibility.”
The Nature Conservancy’s first action 60 years ago was conserving a forest in New York. Today, thanks to the generous support of people like you, we work with thousands of people across the country to restore America’s forests so they can continue to benefit people, water, and wildlife.
Watch our video to learn more about how you can help keep forests healthy with maple syrup on your breakfast table!
Jon Schwedler is communications manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Restoring America’s Forests program. For the past 14 years, Jon has worked on forest conservation efforts in Maryland, Virginia, Montana, New Mexico and California.