Media Release: Forests Overlooked as Critical Climate Solution, #Stand4Forests Launched

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 24, 12:01 am

Forests Overlooked as Essential Climate Change Solution, Say 200+ Elected Officials, Scientists & Organizations in New Platform Launched Today

Limiting Industrial Logging Must be Prioritized Along with Reducing Fossil Fuels, Explains New Report

(September 24, 2018) — In the wake of Hurricane Florence and wildfires that have swept the country, today over 200 organizations, scientists and elected officials released the #Stand4Forests platform demanding the protection of U.S. forests as a vital climate solution.

“Climate science shows that we cannot stop a climate catastrophe without scaling up the protection of forests around the world, including in the United States. Therefore, the US must be a global leader in not only committing to phase out fossil fuel use but also in protecting our forests,” says the platform, which was released in between California’s Global Climate Action Summit and New York’s Climate Week. Signatories include 40 mayors from coast to coast; organizations such as Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, NRDC and Sierra Club; and leading climate scientists and advocates including Bill McKibben and Michael Mann (see the full list of signatories here).

“Hurricane Florence and the devastation it left in its wake has brought climate change to the forefront of public awareness yet again,” said Danna Smith, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance, a North Carolina-based forest protection organization and principal organizer of the Platform. “Living forests are our best hope for removing carbon from the atmosphere; and yet the rate of forest destruction from logging in this country is among the highest on Earth. To avoid climate catastrophe, we must take immediate steps to protect our forests.”

Along with the platform, a new report was also released today summarizing the latest peer-reviewed science underscoring that industrial logging is a major source of carbon emissions in the US; and why we need older trees in tact to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. “Seeing the Forest: Nature’s Solution to Climate Change” reminds us that burning wood for electricity actually releases up to 50 percent more carbon dioxide than burning coal per unit of electricity.

This year the recorded amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 411 parts per million (ppm) – well beyond the 350 ppm that climate scientists deemed safe for humans. Nevertheless, the U.S. forest industry is rapidly replacing most of our nation’s natural forests with younger forests and commercial tree plantations. Logging rates in the Southeast alone are estimated to be four times that of South American rainforests. These degraded forests are not only far less effective at storing carbon than trees that are 100 years-old or older; but they are also more vulnerable to forest fires and not nearly as helpful in preventing flooding, as we saw with the dire impacts of Hurricane Florence.

“Industrial logging accelerates climate change and exacerbates rural poverty and inequity,” said Reverend Leo Woodberry, pastor of Kingdom Living Temple in Florence, S.C. and nationally recognized environmental justice leader. “We saw with Hurricane Florence and the subsequent flooding how important it is to protect our forests.These beautiful, rural areas need economies that work in harmony with nature.”

The Stand4Forests platform states (in part):

Standing forests in the US provide our communities with clean air, fresh water, carbon storage, home to thousands of unique species of plants and animals, and protection from flooding and drought, making forest protection a national and global priority.

The United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer of wood products, which continues to drive massive extraction and degradation of forests at one of the fastest rates in the world.

Communities living at the frontlines of forest destruction are often the same ones who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and face oppressive, polluting, and extractive industries. Communities of color, indigenous communities, low-income, and/or rural populations disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change as well as the health, economic, and social costs associated with industrial practices.

That is why we must:  

  •    Expand permanently protected lands and protect public lands from commercial logging and other harmful activities
  •    End subsidies for false solutions such as industrial-scale bioenergy and genetically engineered trees, and halt conversion of natural forests to plantations
  •    Accurately and transparently account for and reduce emissions from the forestry sector
  •    Invest in forest protection as a resiliency and adaptation strategy for communities vulnerable to the effects of pollution and climate change
  •    Develop just economic transition strategies for communities dependent on an extractive forest economy and provide more options for landowners and municipalities to keep forests standing and thriving

Other quotes from national Stand4Forests spokespeople:

“We cannot solve the climate crisis without a massive scale-up in the protection of forests. That includes right here in our own backyard.”

  • Dr. William Moomaw, Professor Emeritus of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University and lead author of several reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“Forests are most valuable left standing, as they provide clean water, medicines, food, recreation, scenery, pollination and regulation of floods, fires, insects and disease. But tragically, short-sighted corporations have stripped the land bare. Humanity needs us to reverse this trend. The Stand4Forests platform provides a common basis for action to do just that.”

  • Dr. John Talberth, Founder of the Center for Sustainable Economy and forest economy expert

“The science is clear that increasing forest protection while moving beyond fossil fuel consumption ensures effective climate change mitigation—but it requires both,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, a research Ecologist with the John Muir Project. “We need to end the logging program on our National Forests and stop subsidizing logging on private lands,” he added.

  • Dr. Chad Hanson, co-founder of the John Muir project and author of The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature’s Phoenix

“Legislators across the country are stepping up to champion policies that protect our environment, health, communities, and economy. Protecting forests is good policy – whether they’re protecting communities from storms like Florence, mitigating the threat of climate change, or providing clean jobs in restoration and recreation.”

  • Representative Pricey Harrison of North Carolina and the Board Chair of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators

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