Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change, given the amount of carbon emissions they capture.
People benefit from trees and forests in countless ways. They purify our air, lower energy bills, are a source for jobs and more. We want all people, including those in under-resourced communities, to benefit from trees.
Forests are key to addressing our global biodiversity crisis. They provide habitat for 80 percent of terrestrial-based wildlife.
Forests provide us with a steady and high quality supply of water. More than half our drinking water comes from the rivers and streams that run through forests.
Deforestation, climate change and urban development. These are some of the threats to forests. Here are just a few of the startling numbers related to the threats:
- Our forests are burning more frequently and at a larger scale. In California, alone, more than 162 million trees have died since 2010, largely because of wildfires triggered by drought and other climate change-related stressors.
- A 10-fold increase in heat-related deaths is expected across eastern U.S. cities by 2050, partly due to “heat islands” that form in treeless city neighborhoods.
- By 2071, nearly half of the 204 freshwater basins in the U.S. may not be able to meet the monthly demand for water.
- Worldwide, populations of forest-dependent wildlife species declined 53 percent between 1970 and 2014, on average.
Our approach to reaching our goals, which is shaped by the American Forests Impact Model, is three-pronged:
- In our Innovation Lab, we incubate new tools and scientific research to help solve complicated puzzles and empower the forestry field. For example, our Tree Equity: Career Pathways Initiative has developed new ways to connect graduates from urban forestry job training programs with tree care employers.
- We create place-based partnerships in cities and large, rural landscapes so we can work with others to develop enduring, science-based data and forestry plans that, among other things, include techniques for adapting to climate change. Next, we advocate for local, state and/or federal policies and programs—as well as funding to support them—so we can bring the plans to life. Last, we plant and care for forests so they are healthy and resilient for generations to come. We’ve planted hundreds of millions of trees over the last century and 60 million in the last 30 years alone.
- We build movements that inspire and empower actions—such as the creation of new reforestation policies—at a large scale. The Forest-Climate Working Group, staffed and led by American Forests, is one of our key partners in doing so. It is the nation’s only forest sector coalition on climate change. Also, with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of Regional Councils, we manage Vibrant Cities Lab, the preeminent online resource for urban forestry research, tools and case studies.