May 20, 2021
The Senate today held two hearings focused on forestry and climate: “Federal, State, and Private Forestlands: Opportunities for Addressing Climate Change” in the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and and “Forest Management, Forest Products and Carbon” in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In response, American Forests issued the following statement from Jad Daley, President and Chief Executive Officer:
“Bipartisan consensus can be hard to find these days, yet today we heard from both legislators and forestry experts that forests have a key role to play in addressing the climate crisis, providing jobs and sustaining communities (rural and urban), protecting wildlife, purifying drinking water and so much more.
We also heard about the challenges that prevent forests from reaching their full potential as climate powerhouses: catastrophic wildfires, insect and disease, drought and extreme weather, as well as historic under-investment in forest conservation, management and regrowth. Simply put: forests can’t provide clean air, sequester carbon, or provide any other community or environmental benefits if they disappear.
American Forests hopes to see Congress rally behind The Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act as a logical first step. The REPLANT Act will modernize the federal Reforestation Trust fund to help clear the U.S. Forest Service’s multi-billion tree replanting backlog by reforesting 4.1 million acres and planting 1.2 billion trees over the next 10 years. Planting these trees will sequester 75 million metric tons of carbon and help improve the economy to the tune of 49,000 new forest-related jobs created over ten years. We also support the more comprehensive Climate Stewardship Act, which would provide unprecedented funding to advance reforestation on all of America’s public lands, including planting 100 million trees in cities.
Ultimately, to achieve our climate and community goals, we must engage not only public actors, but also private landowners — holders of the majority of U.S. forestlands — in engaging their lands for natural climate solutions. We were pleased to hear discussion in both Committees of a number of ways that federal policies could provide direct financial incentives and help these landowners access rapidly growing carbon markets. We must also center Tree Equity, ensuring that urban communities are a part of the conversation. Tree cover in urban areas provides immense benefits to cities by capturing carbon, reducing energy use, and protecting people from extreme heat, which annually kills more people than any other extreme weather event.
American Forests is eager to work with members of both Committees, and our coalition partners in the Forest Climate Working Group and 1t.org U.S. Chapter, to advance natural climate solutions with forests, in rural forest landscapes and cities alike. We thank the Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), and John Barasso (R-WY) for holding these important hearings and all the Senators and witnesses for their time and expert testimony today.”