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Think of a federal policy in the United States that relates to the country’s forests and it is very likely that American Forests was a leader in getting it enacted. The law, for example, that led to the creation of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. Or the one a few years later that gave the federal government authority to buy and protect eastern U.S. forests, such as the land that’s now the White Mountain and George Washington national forests. And, more recently, a 2018 law that provides long-term funding for preventing and fighting forest fires and a 2020 law that doubles the amount of money for governments to expand the amount of public land in the U.S. for hiking, fishing and more.

We have a 145-year track record of getting bipartisan-supported laws and government programs like these created or amended — all so we and others can restore large forest landscapes and create urban forests.

Currently, much of our work on laws and government programs relates to 1t.org, a World Economic Forum-led (and American Forests-supported) platform for governments, corporations, nonprofits and individuals worldwide who have made or will make commitments to increase the number of trees on the planet and/or prevent the loss of trees that are already in the ground. This will, collectively, add up to 1 trillion healthy trees globally by 2030.

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Being a voice for forests matters more now than ever before

Healthy forests play an important role in solving two critical issues. One is climate change. Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change, given the amount of carbon emissions they capture. The other is social equity. All people, including those in under-resourced communities, deserve trees — and all the benefits they offer.

Healthy forests also provide habitat for wildlife and play a role in ensuring we have a clean and abundant supply of water.

But deforestation, climate change, urban development and other factors threaten our forests. They are burning more frequently and more severely. In California, alone, more than 162 million trees have died since 2010, due to wildfires, droughts, insect outbreaks and other climate change-related stressors. And by 2071, nearly half of the 204 freshwater basins in the U.S. may not be able to meet the monthly demand for water—partly due to a decline in forest health.

Photo credit: Adam Roades

Why does American Forests’ voice matter?

There are dozens of organizations in the U.S. that want to see healthy and climate-resilient forests from coast to coast. What sets American Forests apart is our deep expertise in forest restoration and conservation, connections with influencers, and ability to bring together and find common ground among people who have diverse viewpoints.

Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

Expertise

Our scientists and policy experts have helped many states and cities in the U.S. develop and implement enduring, science-based forestry plans. The plans have, among other things, led to the planting of 60 million trees in the last 30 years alone. The on-the-ground successes and lessons learned from these projects, as well as the science and tools we develop in our Innovation Lab, formulate our approach when we advocate for forest-related policies at the state and federal levels — such as the REPLANT Act and the Climate Stewardship Act.

They also guide us when providing technical assistance to the 25 states that are part of the U.S. Climate Alliance. These states have committed to meeting their share of the nation’s emissions reduction target, as a contribution to the Paris Agreement. American Forests is one of six nongovernmental organizations providing assistance to the alliance states as they develop land-focused climate policies.

We’ve been walking the halls of Congress and state capitols for a long time. So, in addition to our technical expertise, we know how the policy making process works. That’s given us the ability to move quickly and strategically when advocating for reforesting America.

Connections

We have unrivaled working relationships with federal and state agency leaders and elected officials, given the number of years that influencing policies has been central to our mission.

For example, when the U.S. Forest Service decided in 2018 to create a program for working together with a variety of entities across large forested landscapes — such as families, tribes, state governments and nonprofit organizations, all who own or help manage forest land — they turned to American Forests for help. We work with the U.S. Forest Service to facilitate discussions in the 12 states that have agreed through this program to create Shared Stewardship plans. At the heart of the discussions is determining how to do the right work in the right places and at the right scale.

We also work with the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the National Association of Regional Councils, to manage Vibrant Cities Lab—a website that has the most comprehensive, current and relevant research, case studies, tools and best practices related to urban forestry. Urban forestry advocates from around the world tap into this information to build support for urban forestry plans and investments.

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Convening

We believe all voices can and should be heard. This approach has made it possible for us to inspire people with differing viewpoints to come together to share ideas and, ultimately, unite around solutions. A message magnified by many voices is what makes policymakers take notice.

The Forest-Climate Working Group, staffed and co-led by American Forests, is one such coalition. It is the nation’s only forest sector coalition on climate change. Something the coalition does for every Congress is create a policy platform. The platform for the 117th Congress includes recommendations for how to maintain and expand forest cover; improve forest practices for carbon, adaptation and resilience; advance markets for forest carbon, forest products and skilled labor; and enhance climate data and applied science.

American Forests also is a founding member of the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition, an assembly of national organizations working to advance a unified urban forest agenda.

And American Forests works with The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation on several fronts, such as developing federal policy recommendations that have the greatest potential for maintaining and enhancing America’s national forest capacity to contribute as a natural climate solution. The group’s report, Revitalizing America’s Forests, identifies the climate-informed planning and policy tools the U.S. Forest Service and its support network need in order to restore and manage national forests in ways that ensure their resilience in the face of these threats, protect clean drinking water, support biodiversity, and secure these public lands for future generations.

Our newest collaboration relates to urban forestry. We are working with the Trust for Public Land, the Urban Drawdown Initiative, the Davey Tree Expert Co. and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network to galvanize support for the protection and expansion of urban and community forests through the Trees for Community Recovery campaign.

Daley discusses the FCWG Policy Platform with members from both U.S. political parties in March

Jad Daley discusses forest policy with members from both U.S. political parties. Photo credit: American Forests

Read our Policy Reports

Revitalizing America's National Forests cover

REVITALIZING AMERICA’S NATIONAL FORESTS

American Forests, The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation identify federal policy recommendations that have the greatest potential for maintaining and enhancing America’s national forest capacity to contribute as a natural climate solution.

Learn more
Cover of the Wildfire Resiliency Strategy report

RESTORING AMERICA’S FORESTS FOR WILDFIRE RESILIENCE IN A CHANGING CLIMATE

Restoring America’s Forests for Wildfire Resilience in a Changing Climate articulates American Forests’ organizational strategy to advance wildfire resilience across our nation’s forests through climate-informed forestry, including policy shifts to facilitate and fund needed actions.

Learn More
Ramping Up Reforestation in the United States: A Guide for Policymakers report cover

RAMPING UP REFORESTATION IN THE UNITED STATES: A GUIDE FOR POLICYMAKERS

Ramping Up Reforestation in the United States: A Guide for Policymakers is designed to support the development of reforestation policies and programs.

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FOREST CLIMATE WORKING GROUP POLICY PLATFORM FOR 117TH CONGRESS

How policymakers can help private forest owners and public land managers grow the powerful climate solutions in America’s forests and forest products while delivering other environmental and economic benefits.

Learn More

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Our Experts

Rebecca Turner, Chief Strategy Officer

Phone: 202.370.4521
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Leslie Jones, Senior Vice President of Policy

Phone: 202.737.1944
Email Leslie

Alexandra Murdoch, Vice President of Conservation Finance and Policy

Phone: 202.370.4505
Email Alix

Joel Pannell

Joel O. Pannell, Vice President of Urban Forest Policy

Email Joel

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