NASF urges the administration to recognize role of forests in mitigating changing climate

State foresters and the programs they manage are integral to ensuring forests remain healthy, sequester carbon and purify water.

WASHINGTON—Following yesterday’s address on climate change, the National Association of State Foresters applauded President Obama’s recognition of the continued impacts that drought and wildfire have on the nation’s forests. The President’s Climate Action Plan appropriately identifies the need to provide tools to ensure the nation’s forests can continue to absorb carbon and deliver other essential services into the future.

We urge the Administration to recognize the carbon storage and sequestration potential of the nation’s forests and forest products. Currently, forests and forest products in the U.S. offset 13% of total carbon emissions; yet, the loss of forests to commercial and residential development, pests and diseases threaten the ability of forests to continue to serve as a carbon sink. We share the President’s concern regarding the impacts of lengthening wildfire seasons.  State foresters are committed to working with the Administration to identify ways to pay for more expensive fire seasons while improving the health of all the nation’s forests.

Strategic conservation and forest management can increase annual carbon storage to as much as 20% through the development of programs that recognize and take advantage of the important role forests play in mitigating climate change. Further, increasing the use of wood products in building construction can help sequester and store more carbon thereby mitigating climate change, help maintain healthy forests by providing markets for forest products, support strong rural economies and help preserve almost one million good paying jobs.

State Forest Action Plans have identified climate impacts as a key threat facing the nation’s forests. The President’s Climate Action Plan appropriately identifies the need to promote adaptation strategies that improve the resiliency of forests. Earlier this year, NASF advanced recommendations to USDA regarding potential climate adaptation strategies for the nation’s forests. We look forward to further engaging with the Administration to advance these recommendations and to help communities plan for (and respond to) the threat of wildfires made worse by heat and drought conditions.

“State forestry agencies have a significant stake in the outcomes of these decisions as they directly manage and protect millions of acres of state forests and assist private landowners in the management of nearly two-thirds of the forestland in the U.S.,”stated NASF Executive Director Jay Farrell. “NASF’s members are already doing great work to promote healthy sustainable forests, but more can be done. By managing public lands and assisting private landowners, state foresters are contributing to the decrease of carbon in the atmosphere, clean drinking water and decreased risk of wildfires.”