ENVIRONMENTAL MYTHS AND FACTS
How much do Americans really know?

Myth: Buying an artificial Christmas tree is better for the environment than buying a real Christmas tree.

Fact: Real Christmas trees are grown primarily on family-owned managed forestlands where the needs of the forest environment are carefully balanced and maintained. For every Christmas tree harvested, up to three more are planted in the spring.1 Additionally, Christmas trees are biodegradable, recyclable and reusable. They also clean the air of carbon dioxide and prevent soil erosion. More than half of Americans (59 percent) say, for environmental reasons, they use an artificial tree rather than buying a real tree.



Myth: Government and/or industry own the majority of our nation’s forestland.

Fact: Only 20 percent of Americans know that family forest owners, not government or industry, actually own the largest single chunk of U.S. forestland. About half of our forestland is owned collectively by more than 10 million individuals and families.2



Myth: The amount of forestland in the United States has decreased over the past 100 years.

Fact: The amount of U.S. forestland today is actually about the same as it was in the early 1900’s, despite our population tripling.3 There are two major reasons why: one, the incredible regeneration power of Mother Nature, and two, the nearly 4 million tree seedlings that are planted each day.4 That's why there are nearly 750 million acres of forestland in the United States, covering one-third of the mainland.5 Only 6 percent of Americans know that the amount of forestland in the United States is about the same today as it was 100 years ago.



Myth: The wood and paper industry harvests more wood than it helps to replenish.

Fact: Approximately two in three (67 percent) Americans believe this to be true. The wood and paper industry more than makes up for what it harvests by managing forests and planting more than 1.7 million tree seedlings every day – more than 600 million tree seedlings a year.6 Since 1952, when national statistics were first reported, forest growth in the United States has exceeded the rate of harvest. On commercial forestland, net annual growth surpasses the rate of harvest by almost 50 percent.7



Myth: Planting new trees can’t significantly help to combat global warming.

Fact: Trees are vital in removing carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas. According to the Society of American Foresters, “For every ton of wood a forest grows, it removes 1.47 tons of carbon dioxide from the air and replaces it with 1.07 tons of oxygen.”8 The good news is that more than four in five Americans (82 percent) know that planting new trees can help to combat global warming.



Myth: On average, more than half of a tree is wasted in the manufacturing of wood and paper products.

Fact: Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans believe this to be true. When harvested, almost all of a tree is used. Waste created from making one kind of product, is often used to make another product. For instance, a lot of the material for making paper comes from wood chips that are left over after lumber has been manufactured.9



Myth: Using paper products, like paper plates and towels, is bad for the environment.

Fact: More than half of Americans (56 percent) believe this to be true. Using paper products is not bad for the environment because you’re using a natural product that’s renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and from a sustainable resource – our forests.



For more information, go to abundantforests.org.

Source Information

  1. National Christmas Tree Assn. (www.christmastree.org)
  2. Journal of Forestry, Vol. 102, No.7, October/November 2004
  3. USDA Forest Service, “Forest Resources of the United States, 2002” (Smith, et. al.), http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_nc241.pdf
  4. USDA Forest Service, Tree Planters' Notes, Vol. 49, No.1 – 1999;
    http://www.rngr.net/Publications/tpn/?submitSearch=on&publication=Tree%20Planters'%20Notes&volume=49&number=1
  5. USDA Forest Service, “Forest Resources of the United States, 2002” (Smith, et. al.), http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_nc241.pdf
  6. Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Program, http://www.aboutsfi.org
  7. USDA Forest Service, “Forest Resources of the United States, 2002” (Smith, et. al.), http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_nc241.pdf
  8. Society of American Foresters, http://www.safnet.org/aboutforestry/facts.cfm
  9. Tappi’s Paper University, http://www.tappi.org/paperu/all_about_paper/faq.htm