Friday has been proclaimed Arbor Day

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Governor Nathan Deal has announced that Friday, Feb. 18 is Georgia Arbor Day. The Georgia Forestry Commission says a study released by the University of Georgia shows Georgia's forestlands provide essential ecosystem services to the state worth an estimated $37 billion annually.

"Georgia forests are known economic workhorses for our state," said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Robert Farris in a news release. "Our forests contribute $27.2 billion to the state economy and provide more than 118,000 jobs. For the first time, this landmark study puts a number to the clean air, clean water, soil filtration and wildlife habitat services Georgia forests have been providing for centuries. This information is critical to the sustainability of our remarkable forest resource."

The first Arbor Day celebration took place in 1871 in Nebraska as a special day to plant trees and has grown to thousands of communities across the nation.

Many communities across the state of Georgia will be holding their own tree plantings and special events.

In Savannah, a special tree planting ceremony will take place in Forsyth Park at 9 a.m. in memory of urban forestry founder Mary Helen Ray who died this past October.

For information about the many benefits of trees and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit For complete details about the recently released UGA study on forestry ecosystem services, visit

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.