Forests are the lungs of the planet

Forests regulate air and soil and help control disease and flooding

Forests are often are often called the lungs of the planet.  They draw in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exhale oxygen, cooling the earth’s climate. Healthy forests soak up carbon dioxide as they grow. Trees and the wood products that come from them store carbon over long periods of time. Carbon dioxide is released as trees die and decay.

Click the image to read about “The Carbon Cycle – Forestry Never Looked So Cool”

Forests Create Oxygen and Cool the Earth’s Climate

Forests take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mixing it with sunlight plus water to create the glucose molecules that become wood while releasing oxygen through the leaves and needles, thereby helping cool the earth’s climate.  

As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide and store it as carbon in biomass – tree trunks, branches, foliage and roots.  This is known as carbon sequestration. Once trees are mature, they reach a saturation point for carbon, and additional sequestration stops.

The storage of carbon in forests and wood products helps offset sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, such as deforestation, forest fires and fossil fuel emissions.

Wildfires also release a tremendous amount of carbon into the atmosphere when they burn. Read more about the role of fire in the forest ecosystem here.


Click the image to watch this short Forest Fast break video about carbon capture and forests, or click here.


Soil Quality is Critical to a Healthy Environment

Soil is an important component of forest ecosystems. It helps regulate nutrient uptake, decomposition and water availability. For forests to be sustainable, soil quality must be maintained.  Plants and soils work together to remove germs, extra nutrients, and other pollutants from water.  Soil carbon helps soils retain water, increases soil’s capacity for holding on to important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, and serves as a source of energy for below-ground organisms such as insects and fungi.  

Soils regenerate slowly — it can take 800-1,000 years for one inch of soil to form.  That’s why forest managers, landowners and operators use best management practices to keep them healthy and maintain soil productivity.

FOREST FACT:  Very dark brown to black soil, found in forests with a lot of grass understory, indicates soil rich in plant-essential nutrients.  Reddish brown to brown soil indicates a moderate supply of plant-essential nutrients and is the typical color of forest soil. Off-white or light tan soil is very low in plant essential nutrients.


Real-Time Air Monitoring from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Published soil surveys in Idaho from the USDA