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National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

A collaboration of federal, state and tribal partners released a draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (“Strategy”) providing a unified approach to safeguarding the nation’s biodiversity, ecosystem functions and sustainable human uses of fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate. As American Forests has a direct interest in the health of our national forests and developing the appropriate strategy for addressing climate change, we submitted the following comments highlighting areas where American Forests believes the Strategy could improve.

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Forest ecosystems are in a unique position in the climate-change debate as they are both severely impacted by it and contribute to its mitigation through carbon sequestration and the regulation of water quantity and quality. The dynamics of forest ecosystems will change impacting not only the other plants within the forest ecosystem, but the wildlife that call it home and the ecological services the forests provide, such as water regulation, soil erosion mitigation and controlling nutrient overload. American Forests’ comments address six specific issues:

  1. The Strategy must be specific in its direction and prioritization to advance its goals.
  2. Funding should be designated to projects that adequately address climate adaptation.
  3. A more comprehensive approach to habitat conservation should be implemented.
  4. Collaboration must remain a priority in adaptation planning.
  5. Valuing ecosystem services is an integral part of any adaptation plan.
  6. Landscape scale approaches should consider how different ecosystems work together and are interconnected.

RVCC Climate Change Working Group

As co-chairperson of the Climate Change Working Group of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC) – a coalition of rural and local, regional, and national organizations promoting a balanced conservation-based approach to lands, American Forests lead the discussion creating recommendations on how state and federal land management agencies can help facilitate adaptation planning, implementation, and monitoring in and around rural communities.

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These strategies emphasize an all-lands approach to climate change adaptation for rural, natural resource dependent communities. Rural communities need resources and assistance to increase their resilience to climate change. There is a lack of funding and capacity to plan, implement, and monitor strategies that will help natural landscapes, human communities, and local economies adapt to the consequences of climate change.

When developing climate change policy, resources and strategies for rural, natural resource dependent communities to adapt to changes in ecosystem health, threats to public health, and impacts to economic systems must be included. U.S. policy must also capitalize on opportunities to restore forest and rangeland health and to stimulate “green” job growth resulting from a restoration economy.

Principles for Climate Change Policy

American Forests served as the co-chairperson of RVCC’s Climate Change Work Group leading the discussions on how climate change will impact rural communities in the Western U.S. and the forests, watersheds and rangelands that dominate this landscape.  This paper presents information on the potential impacts of climate change on rural communities in the U.S. and discusses the need for these communities to engage in early adaptation measures.

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As there is a strong scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and will significantly impact natural resources, economies, and communities around the world, these impacts need to be recognized and addressed in the halls of Congress.  Any climate change legislation developed by Congress will have dramatic effects on rural communities and landscapes and should consider opportunities for these communities and landscapes to adapt to and help mitigate climate change.

This paper also identifies the need for rural communities to engage in early adaptation measures, opportunities for rural communities to develop and implement mitigation activities related to restoration and stewardship and suggests programs that legitimately achieve economic development and contribute to carbon sequestration.  It demonstrates that the restoration and maintenance of public and private lands will achieve environmental and economic benefits, while helping to put in place climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.

RVCC Senate Climate Letter 

American Forests partnered with several other organizations to write the Chairman and Ranking member of the four Senate Committees developing legislation confronting the opportunities and threats of climate change, specifically the H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy Security Act (ACES).   This letter discussed the strengths of ACES and provided recommendations for improvement regarding several sections of the bill.

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American Forests supports the definition of renewable biomass that includes wood residuals, the inclusion of planning and financial resources for climate change adaptation, and the grants for strategic tree planting in urban areas to reduce energy demands and provide climate benefits through shading.

American Forests also appreciated the comprehensive list of eligible offset projects within the forest sector and the allocation of all carbon allowances directed to address social equity issues.  In addition, American Forests advocated for alterations to ACES including the development of appropriately-scaled energy facilities that are ecologically sustainable, the inclusion of the Forest Service in the list of Federal agencies contribution to the development of natural resources adaptation science and information, and a more comprehensive stakeholder consultation including rural communities and community-based organizations.

Finally, American Forests stressed the expansion of the green jobs and worker transition programs to include training for sustainable natural resource management.

Learn more about forests and climate change

View our climate change restoration tree plantings