Ghost forests and zombie fires

Something scary is happening in our forests. Zombie fires are burning well past fire season. Rising seas are turning healthy ecosystems into ghost forests. And a chainsaw massacre is destroying acres of mature and old-growth trees on public lands.


James Horrox | TPIN

Take Action

Our forests are facing horrors like never before. What are some of the terrible threats to the trees, and how can we help our forests escape tragedy?

Ghost forests

Along the Atlantic coast, forests are transforming into a graveyard of dead trees. Rising sea levels have brought salty, brackish water into healthy forests, slowly killing acres of trees. Left behind are watery remains that are only partially recognizable as a stand of trees.

Since the late 19th century, at least 100,000 acres of forest along the Chesapeake Bay have turned to ghosts — acres of graying trunks sapped of life. And as global warming accelerates sea level rise, the impacts to coastal forests will continue to intensify.

Some states are working to restore these forests, but the best way to prevent ghost forests is to act on climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Zombie fires

In the Arctic, forests are plagued with zombie fires. Climate change is making summers hotter, and wildfires are burning later into the season. Though the blaze may look like it has died out in the winter, buried underground is a slow burn that keeps smoldering, only to rise from the dead in a burst of flames in the spring.

And because the Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the world, the zombie fires are expected to happen more often in the future.

The flames are undying, surviving the Arctic winter. They keep burning, and eerie smoke rises from the ground. Unlike other forest ecosystems, Arctic forests aren’t equipped to handle this much fire, and if the trend doesn’t reverse, hundreds of thousands of acres could be scorched or razed to the ground.


Chainsaw massacre

Climate change isn’t the only threat to our forests — logging is destroying forests around the world. Chainsaws and bulldozers are mowing down our oldest trees.

Dozens of logging projects are targeting America’s old-growth and mature forests. And the North American Boreal forest is losing 1.5 football field’s worth of trees every minute to logging. We’re working to stop this chainsaw massacre.

We’re urging the Biden administration to protect our mature and old-growth trees from logging. And we’re calling on Costco, Procter & Gamble and Amazon to sell toilet paper that doesn’t come from the boreal forest.

Helping our forests survive the onslaught of terrible events

Though our forests are suffering as climate victims in many ways, forests can also be climate heroes. Forests are excellent at trapping global warming pollution in their roots and branches, helping fight climate change. But their fate depends on us.

Haunted by the impacts of climate change, our beautiful towering forests are facing enough stress. Forests are scarred for life by rising sea levels and zombie fires. And then, the timber industry comes in to chop down acres of forests, adding insult to injury.

Environment America is working hard to defend our forests from the terrifying impacts of climate change and the destruction of logging. Our campaigns to protect our forests can help to stop this horror show and keep our forests standing tall.


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Find Out More