Forests, Not Coal, Are Where the Jobs Are

June 4, 2017

The Appalachians are home to some of the world’s most vibrant forests.

The forests of the Southern and Central Appalachian are truly something special. They are one of the world’s richest temperate deciduous forests in terms of biodiversity, including a high number of species existing nowhere else in the world. There is a greater diversity of tree species in the region than anywhere else in North America, and the Clinch River watershed, rising out of the coal fields of southwest Virginia, supports more rare species of freshwater mussels and fish than any river system in North America.

Besides gorgeous colors in the fall and wildflowers in the spring, this landscape is also home to a declining coal industry. Coal is widely known to be environmentally destructive and carbon intensive industry, literally flattening mountaintops in the region while posing a serious risk to human health. Luckily, with the advent of renewable energy, coal is on its way out—but that leaves an economic gap to be filled.