Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forestry's Economic Value Recognized as Georgia Celebrates Arbor Day

Governor Nathan Deal has proclaimed Friday, February 18 Georgia Arbor Day, and the Georgia Forestry Commission is using the occasion to highlight the new bottom line created by healthy forests.

A study just released by The University of Georgia shows Georgia's forestlands provide essential ecosystem services to the state worth an estimated $37 billion annually. This is the first time these indirect benefits of Georgia's private forests have been estimated, and they are in addition to the annual value of timber, forest products and recreation.

"Georgia forests are known economic workhorses for our state," said Robert Farris, Georgia Forestry Commission Director. "Our forests contribute $27.2 billion to the state economy and provide more than 118,000 jobs. For the first time, this landmark study puts a number to the clean air, clean water, soil filtration and wildlife habitat services Georgia forests have been providing for centuries. This information is critical to the sustainability of our remarkable forest resource."

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in 1871 in Nebraska as a special day for planting trees and has grown to thousands of celebrations in communities across our nation each year. In celebration of Georgia Arbor Day, tree plantings and special events are being held across the state. "Edu-tainer" Tim Womick, a modern day Johnny Appleseed, is bringing his Trail of Trees performance to several locations, sharing information about tree benefits in a fun and engaging style. In Savannah, a special tree planting will take place at historic Forsyth Park at 9 a.m. in memory of urban forestry founder, Mary Helen Ray, who died in October. For information about the many benefits of trees and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org. For complete details about the recently released UGA study on forestry ecosystem services, visit www.warnell.uga.edu/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Final-Report-1-24-11.pdf.

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