On Earth Day of this year, President Joe Biden announced an executive order directing the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to conduct an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on federal land. This inventory would be used to inform future policies to protect these forests. To demonstrate support for the increased protection of old growth, Environment America has launched our Let Trees Grow action series to raise awareness of their ecological services and to advocate for a durable policy that will protect our most valuable trees and forests from logging.
Old-growth and mature forests, made up of trees older than 80 years old, continue to be under threat from logging despite their critical functions in mitigating and adapting to climate change. These forests are essential for maintaining biodiversity, and are unique for their high rates of carbon sequestration, their wildfire resiliency and their natural water filtration systems.
The goal of this virtual activist training series is to encourage grassroots action to urge the Forest Service to perform this inventory in a timely manner and to then implement a ban on logging of these forests. For the first two training sessions in June, attendees called the regional Forest Service offices to voice public concern for old growth protections. The most recent trainings on July 5 and 7 focused specifically on the benefits of carbon sequestration by old growth trees, and ended with time for attendees to write letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) again urging immediate action to end logging. An example of one letter that was sent during this training is included here:
I am writing to express my concern for the protection of our nation’s forests and in particular the older, large trees that play a major role in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide. A vast stretch of mature and old-growth forests in our forest are threatened by a U. S. Forest Service rule change, made in the closing days of the Trump administration, eliminated a long-standing protection that prohibited the logging of trees larger than 21 inches in diameter. This is important for the protection of the forest and all its inhabitants but also science tells us larger trees store more carbon and act to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide that is contributing to global warming. The statistics are impressive. Although the majority of these forests are populated with only 3% of their trees having a diameter of 21 inches or more, they are responsible for storing 40% of the carbon contained in the forest.
I urge you, for the good of our planet, to make decisions that will reduce the plundering of this common resource and, also, provide additional protection for the planet. Stop the devastation.
Future webinars will focus on different ecological services performed by old-growth and mature forests and will include various forms of direct action. To sign up to receive emails for future trainings throughout July RSVP here!
This blog was coauthored by Environment America intern Erin Powers
Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center