Our beautiful state of New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the nation. Nearly 84% of our land is covered with carbon-sequestering, oxygen-giving, awe-inspiring trees. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that large swaths of our planet are not. Taking care of our forests and keeping them healthy is everyone’s job. New Hampshire’s forests are currently being threatened by climate change, development, and invasive species. We can’t take our forests for granted – we need to actively protect them.
I recently learned how to identify an ash tree as part of one of our homeschool units, which is too bad because that knowledge is pretty useless now. It turns out that many of the ash trees in our forests are already dead. They have been killed by an invasive species called the emerald ash borer. More alarming to me personally, since they are one of my favorite trees and because the forest near my house is mostly composed of them – is the threat to the hemlock. These amazing trees are also under threat from an invasive species. Losing native tree species hurts the entire ecosystem. To learn how to identify and report invasive species, how to know if your trees are infected, and what to do about it, visit NHbugs.org.
Another threat to our forests comes from climate change. Extreme weather like last summer’s drought hinder normal growth and big storms with wind and flooding are more likely to damage fragile ecosystems. Invasive species moving from warmer climates are another risk as our climate changes. Ironically, the very trees affected by climate change may be our best hope for avoiding its worst effects, so we need to do whatever we can to change our lifestyles and laws to keep New Hampshire’s forests strong.
The more forested and wild land, the better. That’s why it’s so important to support land conservation in states like New Hampshire with so much undeveloped land still unprotected. Many groups have been buying and conserving land in New Hampshire to keep us green. Here are a few: Southeast Land Trust, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, New Hampshire Land Trust Coalition, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, and the Nature Conservancy. If you want to support these fine organizations, I would highly suggest donating to them either directly or by encouraging people with large properties to donate land.
If you are interested in getting more involved in protecting New Hampshire’s forests, visit the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests or check out this Forest Protection Plan, which highlights best practices on forest maintenance. The same group also provides policy suggestions, if you’re inclined to write to your representatives.
If all goes well, New Hampshire will lead the way in forest preservation and continue to provide us with wonderful walks, skis, and hikes through the woods.
How have you or your community helped protect forests in New Hampshire?