October 22, 2021
In response to deliberations of the forestry provisions of the Build Back Better Act, American Forests President and Chief Executive Officer Jad Daley issued the following statement:
As Congressional leaders finalize deliberations over the Build Back Better Act, we urge them to leave no tree behind. We stand arm-in-arm with more than 150 forestry, forest product, conservation and water nonprofits, trade associations and industry groups in continuing to defend the critical need for this historic funding.
Dollar for dollar, forests offer the largest, most effective natural solution for carbon sequestration. The Build Back Better Act includes wildfire risk reduction investments through hazardous fuels treatment and vegetation management that will yield significant (122 MMTCO2e) carbon benefits. These carbon benefits will be quadrupled with an additional $8.25B investment in reforestation, innovation, partnerships and a Civilian Climate Corps, to an astounding ~488 MMTCO2e by 2030, making it a must-have for climate action in this legislation.
Equally important, these provisions will deliver on environmental justice, climate justice and health equity. Investments in urban forestry programs will address extreme heat islands, protect drinking water supplies, and create jobs in the very communities most impacted by the climate crisis and a lack of economic opportunity.
The Build Back Better Act’s $40 billion investment in forestry represents:
- Aggressive moves for wildfire resilience. Wildfire extent has doubled in recent decades. This is a disaster for our communities, our water supplies, our forest carbon sink, and forest resources from timber to recreation opportunities.
- Restoring landscapes through reforestation. Timely reforestation will quickly restart natural carbon sequestration and water filtration on burned and degraded pieces of our national forests and help avert damaging mudslides. Build Back Better fortifies funding for implementing our national seed and seedling strategy so we have the right trees to plant.
- Putting working forests to work on climate. More than half of America’s forests are in private hands, with the largest share held by family forest owners. Build Back Better puts our private lands to work on climate with significant carbon incentives to landowners, including those who have been historically underserved.
- Trees for everyone. Trees are our best natural defense against heat and air pollution, reducing temperatures underneath as much as 45 degrees Fahrenheit. As shown by American Forests’ Tree Equity Score, communities of color have 33 percent less tree canopy, on average, and lower-income communities have 41 percent less. Build Back Better responds to this public health and environmental equity crisis with unprecedented resources to bring vital tree cover to communities that need it most.
- A climate necessity for the 21st century. The vital work of planting and caring for trees in high-need neighborhoods is a proven job creator, and a Civilian Climate Corps will target youth populations to help advance all of the work above, from wildfire resilience to Tree Equity, to build the natural climate solutions workforce of the future.
The return on investment for these programs is multi-fold, and we must ensure that forestry programs remain well funded. Our lives – and our climate – depend on it.