Read the text “The Great Forests” and say whether the statements after it correct or incorrect.
THE GREAT FORESTS
On the western slopes of the United States, south of Puget Sound, warm, gentle rain falls almost constantly. On these mountain slopes, giant Douglas firs grow as they grow nowhere else in the world. For kilometres, pine and fir and other evergreen trees cover the western side of the Cascade Mountains. Farther south, in California, there are the great redwoods, the largest and oldest living things.
When America was first discovered, forests covered more than half the area that is now the United States. Trees had to be cut down to prepare the land for farming and to provide shelter and fuel. In addition, the pioneers travelled in wooden boats and wooden wagons, drawn over wooden roads and bridges. They used wood for their houses, furniture and tools.
As America grew, the need for timber increased, and by the time settlers had reached the Midwest, industry needed wood in vast quantities. Railroads stretched father and father westward, and lumbermen harvested what then seemed like limitless reserves of trees.
What was not at first realized was that a forest is more than a collection of trees. It is a complex community of plant and animal life. Each tree must have sunlight, moist rich soil, and enough space for its roots. At the same time, it is a source of food for birds and animals, and protects the soil from erosion. By absorbing rainwater and slowing the melting snow in the spring, it lessens the danger of floods and regulates the flow of streams.
In a living forest, two opposing forces are constantly at work: growth and decay. The growth of new seedlings balances destruction by insects, plant diseases and occasional storms. But the unrestricted cutting of timber disturbs this natural balance and in America in earlier years, many forests were depleted more rapidly than they could grow. On such cutover land, fires burned out of control, wildlife disappeared, and worst of all, the rich soil of the forest floor was washed away by unchecked rain water.
About the beginning of the 20th century, the national government became concerned about the disappearing forest and in 1905, created the Forest service in the Department of Agriculture, giving it three major responsibilities: to manage the national forest for the public welfare; to cooperate with the states and with the owners of private forest land to prevent and control fires, plant trees, improve watersheds, and fight insects and diseases; and to undertake research in forest management, use and protection.
More than 75 million hectares of timber and range lands are now managed as national forests and national grasslands to serve many purposes including recreation and the continuing yield of such resources as wood, water, wildlife, forage and special products like honey, nuts and Christmas trees.
About 75% of US forest land is on farms and other small, privately owned tracts. In cooperation with the states, the national government is encouraging better management of these lands by providing information and technical assistance, cost-sharing, and low-cost loans. Under this cooperative programme, the Forest service has given technical help to more than 2,124,000 owners of forest land. Since 1940 some 50 million hectares have been involved. These owners have planted more than 1.2 million hectares and have improved timber stands on another 1,000,000 hectares.
Forest industry organizations also encourage better management. Perhaps the least known programmes are those called “Keep America Green”, a fire-prevention project, and the American Forest Institute’s tree-farm-system under which 41,600 privately owned tracts covering about 33 million hectares have been set aside as tree-farms, where modern methods are used for growing high-quality plants. The ‘farms’ range in size from about four to 897,596 hectares.
Each year, owners of private forest land and national, state and local agencies plant or seed more than 520,000 hectares. Practices like these, combined with better protection from fire, disease, insects and other destructive agents, have brought enormous improvement to the forests of America. Timber growth in its woodlands now exceeds the loss that comes from destruction and cutting, and a good reserve is being built to meet future needs.
► 1 Forests cover more than half the area of the United States.
2 A forest is a collection of trees.
3 Trees protect the soil from erosion.
4 Wildlife mostly disappeared because of unrestricted cutting of timber.
5 There are private forests in America.
6 National forests are a source of wood for building houses, furniture manufacturing.
7 Forest land owners have to pay much to the government to be provided with technical assistance.
8 Forest land owners cut trees in harmony with nature.
9 Private forest land and national, state and local agencies work side by side.
10 Timber growth in its woodlands now prevails the loss that comes from destruction and cutting.