THIRTEEN YEARS AGO, the idea that healthy forests are one of the best solutions to climate change was barely on anybody’s radar.
It was top of mind, though, for the relatively small cadre of people advocating independently for the creation of a federal program — what was referred to as “cap and trade” — that would limit the emission of carbon dioxide from industrial activity.
They were not successful. But the experience of fighting for the program made them understand the value of working together, not individually.
That’s when American Forests President and CEO Jad Daley came up with the idea of creating the Forest-Climate Working Group (FCWG). It is the only coalition in the country working to advance state and federal policies that recognize forests, forestry and forest products as a climate change solution. A strength of the coalition is its diverse membership — more than 50 entities representing forest sector businesses, conservation nonprofits, academic institutions, carbon markets, government agencies, state foresters and private landowners.
The role of the coalition is twofold: provide policymakers with innovative, science-based ways to leverage forests as a natural climate solution and serve as a powerful unified voice to support policymakers seeking to make an impact on the climate crisis.
The need for the coalition has never been more important, given that forests in the United States are at a pivotal inflection point. They are simultaneously impacted by climate change (and conversion from forests to other uses, such as development) and an important solution to climate change. We cannot solve climate change without at least sustaining the current contributions of forests. Our chances will improve dramatically if we take action to realize the scientifically-demonstrated potential to nearly double today’s natural carbon capture in forests.
The FCWG has been successful in getting bipartisan policies created and funding allocated so U.S. forests and forest products can reach the full potential they have to slow climate change. But more work is needed. That’s why American Forests has made it a priority to fund, staff and lead the FCWG.