NASF poll finds voters strongly value forests

NASF poll shows broad support for protecting and maintaining America’s forests.

WASHINGTON—In a poll commissioned by the National Association of State Foresters and released today in support of Arbor Day, voters across the country were found to strongly value forests as sources of clear air and water as well as providers of good-paying jobs and essential products.

The poll, conducted by the bipartisan team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R), also found that 74 percent of voters support maintaining or expanding efforts to protect forests and trees in their states.

“It’s encouraging to know that the voting public understands the immense value provided by our forest land,” said Jay Farrell, NASF executive director. “America’s forests are a renewable resource that provide both environmental and economic benefits – and that makes them truly unique. On Arbor Day, it’s worth remembering the important role of our forests.”

A memo summarizing the poll’s finding can be found here. Highlights include:

92 percent of voters surveyed believe that helping keep the air clean is a “very” important benefit of forests, including 58 percent who believe it is “extremely” important. A nearly identical 91% of voters assign similar importance to forests’ role in filtering water to keep it clean.

Perhaps as a result of the economic downturn, voters in the survey value forests for the very real economic benefits they provide, including good-paying jobs and essential products like paper and lumber. In a 2007 survey, only 47 percent of voters considered this to be an “extremely” or “very” important benefit of forests compared to 73 percent this year’s survey.

Survey respondents recognize that America’s forests face a variety of threats including wildfires, insects, and disease. Specifically, 73 percent of all voters consider wildfires to be a “major” threat to forests. Three in five voters believe the same about insects and diseases that harm trees (62%) and development (62%).

74 percent of voters surveyed say they support providing resources for ongoing forest management and protection, including 41 percent who say they’d like to see it increased.

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