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Maintaining North Carolina’s healthy forests

To the Editor:

When I think of forests; an image of serenity, safety, and wellness comes to me.

As a black child living in rural northeastern North Carolina, the forests were where I would go to escape the summer heat and troubles of the day. Those troubles included dealing with braces because of my polio and constant bullying because I was different.

Today, as a retired environmental biologist, I understand that the functions of the forests are much more important.  Forests help in maintaining a healthy existence for all plants and animals. That includes us, as human beings. Humans and most animals inhale oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide in their respiratory cycles. Plants, on the other hand, take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Healthy forests act as carbon dioxide sinks by absorbing it from the atmosphere and storing it for long periods of time in the individual trees.

The southern United States holds about 40% of the country’s timberland in its forests. Timberland not only supplies the lumber, pulp, and paper industries, but also the surging wood pellet industries. These increased deforestation activities were initiated to produce wood pellets for export to European and other countries.  Because of the surging wood pellet market, it is projected that deforestation will continue to increase over the next five years.

The Cypress Group of the Sierra Club has identified “Maintaining North Carolina’s Healthy Forests” as a 2015 conservation priority.  The Cypress Group is supporting Dogwood Alliance with their “Our Forests Aren’t Fuel” campaign.  There are a number of events being planned to help address this important issue.  Please join us in our attempts to increase awareness of this important environmental issue.

James (JC) Woodley

Greenville, NC