NRDC, alongside a broad coalition of partners, is calling on the Biden administration to protect mature forests and big trees on federal forestlands. Nationwide, these portions of our federal forests store and sequester tremendous amounts of carbon. They also protect water quantity and quality, shelter and support biodiversity, provide important recreational opportunities, and supply numerous other critical benefits.
These champions of climate and biodiversity preservation are themselves in dire need of protection. Notwithstanding the well-known benefits these older forests and trees deliver, the federal agencies charged with managing federal forestlands—the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—continue to allow them to be logged. But the day has long since passed when Americans relied on federal forests for their wood. And we can no longer afford the consequences of destroying our climate-critical mature trees.
President Biden has rightly recognized the importance of America’s mature and old-growth forests and committed the government to forest conservation through his Earth Day executive order. The spotlight is now on USFS and BLM to seize this opportunity to create robust protections for older forests and big trees that will stand as an international gold standard. Strong federal protections for our climate forests will:
- Secure substantial amounts of stored carbon immediately
- Safeguard our best tools for taking carbon out of the atmosphere
- Contribute to a host of associated benefits, including habitat for critical species and cleaner water
America lost much of its older forests and big trees to decades of reckless logging. We can begin to correct this historic mistake by protecting what remains and laying the foundation for the old-growth forests of the future. It’s just one way President Biden can demonstrate the international climate leadership that’s so needed today.