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Wild Heritage: A Founding Member of the Climate Forests Campaign

February 15, 2022

The Climate Forests Campaign: calling on the Biden Administration to let older trees grow

For Immediate Release
Contact: Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist, [email protected]

Washington, D.C. (February 15, 2022) — More than 70 groups have launched the Climate Forests Campaign calling on the Biden administration to take executive action to protect mature trees and forests on federal lands to fight climate change and protect biodiversity. Last January President Biden signed Executive Order 10048, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, pledging to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by 2050. The Climate Forests Campaign is working to ensure that mature forests, as well as primary and old growth forests, are protected as a key part of the US climate strategy.

Members of the coalition include the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environment America, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Oregon Wild, Standing Trees, Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Wild Heritage.

“Older forests on federal lands draw down massive amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, serving as a natural climate solution,” said Dr. Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist with Wild Heritage“The science is clear, we cannot get out of the climate and biodiversity global emergencies without protecting these vestiges of our natural biological inheritance. Doing so would position the U.S. as a global leader that is serious about the president’s pledge at the COP 26 climate summit to end global forest losses whether in the Amazon or here at home.”

This month marks the 117th anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service. For more than a century, the agency has focused much of its resources on logging. This campaign calls on the Biden administration to kick off a new era of climate and forest policy that values trees and forests as key pieces of the climate solution.

The Roadless Rule enacted in 2001 under President Bill Clinton protected nearly 60 million acres of federal land from logging and road-building, safeguarding critically important stands of remaining old growth. However, most older trees and mature forests on federal land lie outside these roadless areas. It is critical to enlist these forests in the fight against climate change and species extinction as well.

Forests — particularly older forests and old growth forests — store vast amounts of carbon and continue absorbing carbon as they age. Logging releases most of that carbon into the atmosphere. Newly planted forests cannot re-absorb this carbon dioxide for decades or centuries — by which time it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. Older trees and forests are also naturally more fire resistant, they help limit the impacts of climate change by slowing soil erosion and moderating temperatures and they provide the best habitat for thousands of species, including spotted owls, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and pine martens.

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