There is broad agreement we are under significant climate threat as rising average temperatures threaten American livelihoods. We need proven solutions that can offer contributions to our environment and economy alike.
Fortunately, we have a tested and available tool to mitigate climate change while supporting millions of green jobs — sustainable forest management. Well-managed forests mitigate climate impacts and reduce atmospheric carbon by aiding in carbon capture and generating products that sequester carbon.
Well-managed forests are less susceptible to wildfires, disease and other stresses that are rising rapidly due to climate change, and which release more carbon. It is more critical than ever that we take steps to keep forests healthy.
Furthermore, experts agree that wood products play a vital role as well. The use of wood products in our built environment effectively keeps carbon from reentering the atmosphere by storing carbon over the long-term, and requiring less energy to manufacture than other building materials.
Now, consider that the majority of forestlands in the U.S. are in private hands. That means the health of our forests is in the hands of people who make management decisions every day, based on a wide range of needs and experiences. How do we influence those individuals? How do we support good decision-making?
American Forests’ role is to inspire and advance the science-based restoration and conservation of forests across the nation, which includes identifying actions that align forests as a solution to climate change. We are constantly building partnerships and coalitions to help take these actions to scale.
And the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) advances sustainability through forest-focused collaborations — including its forest certification standards and by promoting conservation outcomes across North America. SFI’s network also works in local communities and promotes environmental education.
There are some 375 million acres certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard. That means SFI can positively impact forests across a huge swath of North America.
The SFI Forest Management Standard requires SFI-certified organizations to reforest after harvest, protect forests from damaging agents, protect water quality through use of best management practices, conserve biological diversity, and provide training of loggers. It creates a powerful touch point to integrate our best understanding of sustainable forestry, including climate change considerations, with what happens out in the woods.
Across the U.S., governments, companies, NGOs, and civil society are excited about using trees and forests to address climate change action, biodiversity, and much more.
That’s why American Forests and the World Economic Forum just launched a new U.S. Chapter of 1t.org, the global trillion trees platform. This new U.S. Chapter provides a way to bring together forestry experts. By bringing these diverse entities together, we can ensure that actions to conserve, restore and grow forests toward the goal of one trillion trees by 2030 are informed by the expertise of the forest sector.
As America looks to relaunch its post-COVID economy, we are poised for explosive green growth. And you can’t get greener than forests!
Done right, we can deliver forests as a solution to environmental challenges such as climate change while spurring economic growth, supporting the green building movement, and much more.
The key will be partnerships that connect people and organizations in new ways, for new breakthroughs.
Daley is President and CEO of American Forests, an organization that has been working on ways to ensure the health of forests for 146 years.