Morgan Kurst, University of Virginia
Forest Conservation as Climate Protection
The recent report Forest Defense is Climate Defense from Oregon Wild links the practice of logging forests with greenhouse carbon emissions. According to the report, logging old-growth forests releases a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, and planting new trees after logging still creates “carbon debt.” It takes decades for the new trees to store the same amount of carbon that the old trees did. In other words, “planting trees” isn’t a sufficient forest conservation strategy. To solve this climate issue, Oregon Wild recommends two strategies:
- Modernizing logging laws with climate-smart practices.
- Permanently protecting remaining old-growth forests and encouraging forest restoration on public lands.
The graphic below depicts the fate of carbon during forest logging. After a tree is logged, the stump only retains 15% of the initial carbon storage.
Where do we come in?
Wild Virginia believes our forests should be managed to provide clean drinking water, clean air, wilderness, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities for the public. We teamed up with some of our partner groups in our recent Stand 4 Forests campaign to address forest conservation. The campaign argues that the US must immediately scale up forest protection, restore degraded forests, reduce consumption, and transition to clean, renewable energy before it is too late. Recommendations include:
- Expanding permanently protected lands and protect public lands from commercial logging and other harmful activities.
- Reducing emissions from the forestry sector and expanding the US forest carbon sink as a major climate strategy.
- Investing in forest protection as a resiliency and adaptation strategy for communities vulnerable to pollution and climate change.
It’s always exciting to discover different groups coming to a consensus on a solution. We know we are on the right track, so what’s the next step in guaranteeing forest conservation? How are we going to save our wild spaces and protect our climate?
You can help today by endorsing our Stand 4 Forests campaign and voting on November 6th for candidates who support our forests.