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Trees Boost Economy for Mississippians
By Dawn R. Hanna
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians have more than a billion reasons for celebrating Arbor Day on Feb. 9. Forestry is more than an asset to the state's environment; it's an asset to Mississippi's economy.
"Timber has been an important asset to Mississippi's economy, but in the last two years our forests generated more than a billion dollars in harvest value," said Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University.
Mississippians begin celebrating tree planting week on Arbor Day, Feb. 9.
Daniels said the forest products industry provides 25 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Mississippi, which makes Arbor Day an economic as well as an environmental celebration.
"Since 1975, Tree Planting Committees have been organized in all of the 82 Mississippi counties through the cooperation of many state and federal agencies and organizations," said Daniels, "These committees were formed with future generations in mind."
More than 100 years since its establishment, Arbor Day has been celebrated in all 50 states and many countries throughout the world.
Daniels said the value of forest products has been rising for the past 20 years in Mississippi. The value of timber in the state has doubled since 1986.
"From an economic standpoint, looking at the impact of forests, Mississippians have a great deal to celebrate on Arbor Day and during tree planting week," said Daniels. "We live in what is considered the 'wood basket of the nation' where a large portion of America's forest products come from."
Mississippi's forestry community works all year to ensure forests for the future. Every year more than 160 million trees are planted in Mississippi.
Free seedlings are available in all counties during tree planting week to help remind Mississippians of the importance of trees in our lives. Local county extension offices, county forester and soil conservation service offices will have information about times and locations of events.
Bill Colvin, director of information and education for the Mississippi Forestry Commission, said about 18 million seedlings have been given away during tree planting week in the past 20 years.
People who are interested in participating in tree planting week should explore the different varieties and functions of trees before planting them.
The International Society of Arboriculture suggested the following tips for landowners or homeowners:
- Match the tree to the site by checking the soil, sunlight level and if there is proper growing space.
- Make sure the chosen tree will serve the desired function. Certain trees are best at forming walls and canopies, providing shade or in reducing noise pollution.
- Find out if the tree has the appropriate characteristics. Consider the growth rate, mature size, disease resistance, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic value before choosing a tree.