As we recently reported, the more the public demands wood and other forest products, the more our forests grow – and, as it turns out, that growth supports rural families, too. When terrain for logging disappears due to suburbanization of historically wooded properties, jobs disappear along with it. As The Huffington Post reports, the number of logging jobs has declined dramatically over the last 20 years along with the milling companies that once provided them, leaving vast tracts of forest in the hands of investor groups and private-equity funds.
How those landowners then sell or lease the properties – and two whom – depends on what will net them the greatest profits. That often means tearing down forests to build oversized vacation homes instead of preserving them. A group called The Conservation Fund hopes to change that, and recently purchased 23,053 acres of forest on the borders of New York, Vermont and Massachusetts to help ensure they remain the backbone of the rural economies nearby.
…But cities naturally expand over time and zoning policies can, in theory, be changed to accommodate housing that is more affordable. In rural, wooded areas, the gentrification process can be economically devastating. That’s why privately owned forests like the ones the Conservation Fund buys welcome sustainable forestry, which helps clear out dead wood and make the forests less dense. Forestry-related industries currently provide 2.7 million American jobs and contribute $112 billion to the U.S. economy each year, according to the Land Trust Alliance, a conservation group.