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Forests matter to the earth the way your lungs matter to your body. They take in carbon dioxide and give back oxygen. Without forests, life as we know it would not exist. We can also think of forests as nature’s own form of “carbon offset”: part of the environment that naturally neutralizes the carbon dioxide from human activity.
In recent years, protecting forests and planting trees have become two of the many ways UPS gives back to society and the planet. Forest conservation is one source of the carbon offset credits for the carbon neutral service we offer our customers, and planting trees helps mitigate some of the carbon emissions from our own operations. In 2012, UPS provided US$1.6 million in grants to environmental organizations to support tree planting and forest protection. We also committed to planting one million trees before the end of 2013. This brings our total support for forestry conservation to US$4.5 million since 2008. By the end of 2013, the organizations and projects we have supported will have planted more than 2 million trees.
In addition to our funding support, we advanced in two additional areas in 2012: integrating forestry conservation into our volunteerism programs and learning more about the global ecology of forests. To get our employee volunteers engaged, we supported tree planting projects near urban areas in North America and Europe. To learn about how forests sequester carbon, we engaged Earthwatch Institute to teach UPSers and some of our stakeholders in hands-on visits to a forest in Canada. One outcome of this education process was greater awareness of how important boreal forests are to the earth’s carbon balance. As a result of our education, we took our new perspectives to our senior management and we significantly expanded our forestry commitment and financial support to organizations helping to preserve boreal forests in four countries (see below).
You probably know that trees store carbon dioxide. But you may not know that boreal forests can do even more. Because of their cool northern latitudes, they release little of their stored CO2 back into the atmosphere when trees die. That makes them one of the most important environmental resources on earth. The boreal forest matters in other ways, too – its wetlands filter millions of gallons of water every day. The total size of the forest, which spans ten countries (Canada, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the U.S.), is approximately 6.5 million square miles (16.8 million square kilometers). This is equivalent to about 25 percent of the world’s intact forestland (see map in UPS Global Forestry Initiative).
Like many forests around the world, the boreal is under threat from climate change, human encroachment, and extraction of natural resources. While the world needs energy today, it cannot afford to lose an ecological asset so essential to the air we breathe. That’s why we are protecting the boreal forest and replanting it in Canada, Norway, Russia, and the United States.
In 2012, UPS committed to planting 1 million trees before the end of 2013. UPS also contributed US$1.6 million to plant trees and protect extant forests as a way to counteract carbon emissions from UPS operations.
Partners in the UPS Global Forestry Initiative include leading environmental groups with forestry expertise, to ensure that our contributions are measurable and based on science.
The initiative emphasizes boreal forests, which contain the world’s largest natural “carbon reservoirs” (other than the oceans).