Repairing America’s Tattered Forests: A roadmap for USDA-USDI compliance with EO 140008

Sixty-one scientific, conservation community and faith organizations have called on the Biden Administration’s National Climate Task Force to reject the false solutions and narratives offered by Big Timber and instead embrace a climate-forestry for the US based on science, sustainable economics and environmental justice. The letter, coordinated by the Forest Carbon Coalition, was accompanied by a detailed policy roadmap containing five high-level strategic goals and dozens of policy interventions to achieve them. These include:

  • Halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation
  • Diversifying and revitalizing rural communities and addressing environmental injustices
  • Reducing forestland ownership by short-sighted investors
  • Reducing wasteful consumption of wood products, and
  • Reducing the climate impacts of industrial forest practices

As documented in the policy roadmap – Repairing America’s Tattered Forests – nearly 80% of US forestlands are moderately or severely degraded from decades of mismanagement and harmful projects and activities including logging, grazing, mining, roads, invasive species, off road vehicle use, suburban sprawl and unwarranted fire suppression. In addition, logging of the last remnants of ecologically intact primary and natural forests continues, largely as a result of subsidized logging on public forestlands.

The loss and degradation of US forestlands comes with a high climate price tag. Industrial logging activities are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions despite being excluded from national and state level GHG inventories. In addition, lands heavily impacted by clearcuts, dense logging road networks and timber plantations are far more vulnerable to wildfires, water shortages, floods, storm damage and other stressors already on the rise due to climate change.

But President Biden’s Executive Order 140008 offers hope for turning the tide.

The EO requires the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Interior to develop and implement a climate-forestry plan for the US that accomplishes several overlapping goals including reducing climate pollution, increasing landscape resilience to climate change, protecting public health, conserving our lands, waters and biodiversity, delivering environmental justice and creating jobs and economic growth in our most economically distressed rural communities.  A first iteration of that plan will be released on April 27th. Forest Carbon Coalition and its partners are hopeful that the dozens of specific policy recommendations identified in the roadmap will be carefully considered and adopted in the years ahead.

Read the sign on letter here

Read the policy roadmap, America’s Tattered Forests here