Liberals Cannot See the Trees for the Forests

By Bernie on 17 Jan 2007

Yeah that's right, liberals cannot see all the trees because of the forests, literally. Here's why. The statistic quoted most often is that there are 40% fewer forests in the US than 400 years ago. But fewer forests do not mean fewer trees, just as fewer farmers than 100 years ago does not mean fewer farm-stuffs produced.

Urban areas are not forests, yet they contain billions of trees. You read that correctly, billions.

Journal of Forestry,
Nowak, David J.; Noble, Mary H.; Sisinni, Susan M.; Dwyer, John F.,
Vol. 99 no. 3.:p. 37-42. (2001)
Assessing the US Urban Forest Resources

Urban areas in America cover 3.5 percent of the total land area and contain more than 75 percent of the population. In addition, urban areas contain approximately 3.8 billion trees with an average tree canopy cover of 27 percent.

So although we have 40% fewer forests, per se, that does not mean we do not have the urban equivalent of forests in our cities.

One may wonder how many more trees these non-forest areas add to defined forests. Fortunately there are a number of studies that have done the research for us.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station,
Riemann, Rachel 2003,
Pilot Inventory of FIA plots traditionally called ‘nonforest' Newtown Square, PA

Nonforest plots may have trees on them, but they do not fit FIA’s definition of forest because the area covered by trees is too small, too sparsely populated by trees, too narrow (e.g., trees between fields or in the middle of a divided highway), or has a disturbed understory (e.g., mowing or grazing) such that natural regeneration of trees probably does not occur. Recent inventories and associated photointerpretation work showed that 30 to 50 percent of these nonforest plots contained trees and were located in urban, suburban, industrial, and rural areas. Data were collected for trees on traditionally nonforest plots in a five-county area in Maryland that was 30 percent forested in 1999. Nonforest plots added at least 43 percent to the total-tree basal area measured on forest plots.

This means that for every 100 trees in an area defined as a forest, the non-forest areas add another 43 trees. Add that to the trees in the 60% forests and we are up to 85% of the number of trees we had 400 years ago.

Now while it is true that in earlier centuries the lumber industry raped our timberlands, they changed their method of operations over a century ago to managed plantations for their timber needs. In addition, these plantations produce timber at 5 to 10 times the average forest yield. What this means is that we need only one-fifth to one-tenth of previous forest space to have the same number of trees for timber. The plantations produce the same number of trees as do 20% of our forests. For those with a pencil, for every 100 trees in a forest there are 20 plantation trees; bringing our total tree count to 105%; that is, even with 40% fewer forests we have 105% of the trees we had 400 years ago.

But we don't need a calculator - we can simply notice that while It is true that America consumes about one-fourth of the world's timber, through managed forestry, we are growing enough timber to meet our needs without losing forest cover. Indeed, in the past few decades, the forest cover in Western Europe and North America, for example, has become stable or has actually increased. [science clarified]. We are using more and more timber each year in America while our forest cover is increasing. What that means is that we have been getting enough timber from plantations, that natural reforestation has been increasing.

What should scare everyone is the rapid deforestation in the third world, but it has nothing to do with America. American forests are better managed than any place on earth. Worry about other things than trees in America.

Yes this is filed under hoaxes. "We've killed all our trees" is a liberal hoax.


Cato Institute,
Jerry Taylor [director of natural resource studies],
The Challenge of Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the environmental catchphrase of the 1990s, a vague but ambitious idea that dominates international environmental policy and permeates our domestic policy debate. It is an idea, moreover, that has now become institutionalized. [snip] Despite its institutionalization, sustainable development is still difficult to define coherently. The UN Commission on Economic Development (UNCED), in its landmark 1987 Our Common Future, defines sustainable development as that which "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." If sustainable development is to inform economic and environmental policy, however, the UNCED definition is hopelessly inadequate.

How can we reasonably be expected to know, for example, what the needs of future generations will be? Imagine the economic planner of 1890 attempting to plan for the needs of today. Whale oil for heating, copper for telegram wires, rock salt for refrigeration, and draft horses for transportation and agriculture would all be high on the list of scarce resources he would worry about sustaining 100 years hence, whereas petroleum, on the other hand, would not appear on that list at all, since oil was not an economic resource at the time.

Native American actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody
Native American actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody
Photo Credit:
Here's something interesting: Indians were not big fans of forests and had no problems burning them down just to make it easier to hunt animals:,
American Prehistory: 8000 Years of Forest Management

For many years it was believed that Native Americans used what they could find in their immediate environment to supplement their diet and lifestyle with little disruption to the surrounding landscape. Today, many scholars disagree that the original inhabitants of the Americas had little impact on the environment. Calling this the myth of the "ecologically invisible” American Indian, critics instead believe that Native Americans altered the land to better suit their needs.

Based on archaeological evidence (mainly charcoal deposits and pollen records), in addition to eyewitness accounts by European explorers, many experts now contend that prehistoric people deliberately set fires to accomplish a variety of tasks. Besides using fire to clear large tracts of wooded land for farming (by 1500, millions of acres had been cleared to plant corn, squash, and other domesticated plants), Native Americans also set fires to improve visibility, facilitate travel, and control the habitat of the forest by getting rid of unwanted plants and encouraging the growth of more desirable ones like blackberries and strawberries.

Fire also was used to make hunting more productive in two essential ways. First, Native Americans would light fires near a grazing herd to either force them off a nearby cliff to escape the flames or compel them to run towards hunters waiting to kill the animals with their spears. Second, the fires set to keep the land open and grassy also increased the number of bison, elk, and deer in the area, thereby making hunting even easier for the Native Americans.

Although I am very much in favor of keeping America Beautiful, spare me the white bashing by using Native American actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody crying over the despoiling of our land by whites.

Forest Galleries:
Forests Forever

Forest photos from around the world:

forests1. North American Forests: section of Sequoia tree trunk, 2. Forests and Stuff 001, 3. Foggy Morning, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone Natl Forest, KY, 4. The Kingdom of Beauty, 5. mystery forest, 6. The waterfall of my dreams

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

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