Tell the Biden Administration: Protect Mature and Old-Growth Forests

Bureau of Land Management California via Flickr | Public Domain
Old-growth forests, such as California's Headwaters Forest Reserve, play a major role in fighting climate change by capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.

In April 2022, President Biden issued Executive Order, 14072, Strengthening the Nation’s, Communities, and Local Economies, which among other things, directed federal agencies to define, inventory and develop policies to conserve mature and old growth forests on federal lands. In Spring 2023, both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service announced plans to develop new rules that address forest management. Both agencies also kicked off public comment periods. Add your comment to tell the Biden administration that they must protect our most valuable forests as they develop their rules.

Dear Secretary Haaland and Secretary Vilsack,

Thank you for requesting public input on how the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management should foster ecosystem resilience and climate resilience on federal forest lands. To meet President Biden’s goals for tackling the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, it is imperative that both agencies prioritize the protection of mature and old-growth forests.

As your agencies have identified, older forests are crucial for addressing the climate crisis. These trees and stands store the vast majority of the above ground carbon in a forest. In addition, old-growth forests and trees are also far more adaptable to the impacts of climate change, especially compared to industrial tree plantations. Logging activity undermines these benefits – nationally, carbon losses from clearcut and other logging are up to five times higher than emissions from fire and other natural forest disturbances combined.

Our older forests are also critical for addressing the biodiversity crisis. These complex ecosystems provide vital and unique habitats for birds up above, critters down below and everything in between. Intact forested watersheds produce very high quality water vital for aquatic life and downstream uses.

We urge you to include in any future administrative rules an end to inappropriate logging of mature and old growth forests on federal land. While there are certainly other threats to our older forests, including wildfire and drought, the threat of logging is fully under your control and is therefore the simplest threat to act on.

We ask you to act quickly to protect the mature forests and trees both for their current important values and so they grow to become old growth and continue their work to help mitigate the climate crisis, contribute to healthy watersheds and provide ecosystem resilience. These forests are worth more standing.