We cannot solve climate change without fully using the power of forests to help capture and store carbon dioxide emissions generated by human activity. More than 14 percent of U.S. carbon emissions each year are absorbed by our forests, and there is potential to grow this natural carbon sink by restoring our forests and planting more trees.
Yet it is also clear that climate change is weakening and even killing our forests with alarming speed. From dramatic tree mortality and high-intensity wildfire across the West to changing tree species composition and declining forest health in the East, our forests are struggling to adjust to the rapid changes in our climate.
At this pivotal moment for our forests and the overall health of our planet, American Forests has stepped into a national leadership role to deliver forest solutions to climate change.
One mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year.
Source: arbor environmental alliance
Deforestation accounts for up to 15 percent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases.
American Forests is leading solutions on climate change in three ways:
American Forests is leading by example with our forest restoration work in large landscapes and cities.
New research shows that reforestation efforts like American ReLeaf are the single-largest pathway to greater natural carbon capture, and we are developing new science-based techniques to maximize this carbon sequestration and long-term forest resilience.
Our tree planting in cities through Community ReLeaf also helps absorb carbon, and creates even greater carbon savings by cooling the surrounding environment and reducing energy costs by as much as 30 percent. Our urban tree planting is carefully targeted to urban heat islands, where this cooling benefit will be greatest.
Partnering for Action
American Forests is the co-chair of the Forest-Climate Working Group (FCWG), the nation’s only coalition dedicated solely to this issue. The FCWG includes a remarkable diversity of interests, from landowners and forest products companies to government, academia and conservation groups. The FCWG is the go-to source of information and ideas for federal and state officials alike.
This includes a special partnership with the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 16 U.S. states and Puerto Rico that is dedicated to climate leadership. The FCWG will help these states identify how to use forests as a climate solution. In August 2018, American Forests became the first group to commit to the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands Challenge.
Forests and Climate Change Science
American Forests is helping answer the scientific questions that will unlock new forest-climate solutions. We are currently partnering with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science on an unprecedented effort to identify how forest restoration and sustainable management can trap more carbon in forest soils — the single largest potential pool of carbon in forests. This will fill a longstanding gap in understanding of potential carbon capture in forests.
We are also using American Forests’ Science Advisory Board to help identify the key research being done on forests and climate, and to develop a national research agenda based on the research gaps that need to be filled.