When people learn I work for a water quality organization, often their immediate follow-up is, "Wait. Why would a water quality organization promote logging?" This happened to me just a few weeks ago at a conference in Connecticut. I only had a minute or two to respond to this complicated question. I needed an elevator speech. Fortunately, I was ready, and I wanted to share my answer with you. Hopefully it's helpful the next time you're faced with someone upset that you use trees.
In the U.S., families just like yours and mine own the largest share of forestland. And just like our families, these family forest owners face real costs, such as property taxes. If their forestland can't cover those costs, landowners may be forced to sell chunks of their property. Those chunks usually turn into vacation homes, strip malls, and parking lots.
We lose almost 6,000 acres of open space in the U.S. to development every day - in a year, an area larger than the state of Delaware. Research has shown that financial pressure is the number one reason for that conversion.
This loss of open space hurts water quality. Developed land is the most important indicator of watershed health, and negative impacts can occur when as little as 2.4% of the land becomes developed.
That's why the economic viability of forestry is so important to water quality. When we help keep the ownership of land profitable, we lower the pressure on landowners to sell out to developers. That helps keep land as land, forest as forest, and healthy water as healthy water.