The National Forests, Wildlife, and You!

Did you know that America’s National Forests are “The People’s Lands”? That’s right–they belong to all of us! When you help plant a tree through UNICEF Kid Power, you are helping keep our country’s National Forests healthy and welcoming.

What are the National Forests?

The National Forests (public lands in 42 states and Puerto Rico) are a natural, year-round playground for all Americans. Did you know that these wild places host 200 million visitors each year? You and your family can hike, ski, climb, bike, fish, picnic, photograph, explore and recharge when visiting your local National Forest! 

Not only are the National Forests a playground, they also provide water, timber, oil, gas and minerals, grazing lands and other valuable natural resources. More than 3,000 communities, serving millions of Americans, get their drinking water from watersheds contained within National Forests and Grasslands. From major cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles to small towns that border forest boundaries, the role our National Forests play in providing water is so important to our community health.

Forests and wildlife

Our country’s National Forests are also home to amazingly diverse wildlife! Within 193-million acres of these public lands, you can find more than 3,000 species of fish and wildlife, including over 400 (federally-listed) threatened and endangered species!

What do our National Forests offer wildlife? 

  1. Cover from predators and shelter from the cold and rain, such as dens and nests in hollow trees, decomposing logs and leaf litter on land and woody debris in aquatic habitats. 
  2. Food (prey animals, vegetation such as grasses and leaves, fungi, nuts and berries).
  3. Healthy habitats through reduced erosion and sedimentation and moderated water temperature.

Preserving our forests

As climate conditions become drier and warmer, and wildfires become more frequent and severe, the wild areas of our National Forests are becoming increasingly vulnerable. High intensity wildfires, insect and disease outbreaks, and other natural disturbances could lead to irreversible changes, such as conversion to non-forest habitat. Resulting habitat degradation and loss could lead to declines in species diversity and changes in essential ecological processes such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling (like carbon storage).

When you redeem the Kid Power Coins you earn in UNICEF Kid Power for planting trees, you help make forests more resilient by improving forests’ ability to resist or recover from a disturbance and by re-establishing a seed source for future natural regeneration.

Every tree you help plant through UNICEF Kid Power helps to give fish and wildlife healthy homes, abundant food and enough space to fly, swim and wander. When you participate in UNICEF Kid Power, you not only learn and dance, but you can also help the environment and the animals that rely on public lands. All our wild friends are grateful for your hard work, so pat yourselves on the back!

Information provided by the National Forest Foundation, a UNICEF USA local impact partner through UNICEF Kid Power.