Our forests are special for so many reasons. They provide us with clean air and water, protection from floods and storms, and store and sequester massive amounts of carbon. Equal parts science and wonder, Southern forests provide habitat for unique species you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and they’re places people can go for solace, relaxation, adventure, and reconnection.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that forests are good for the planet and good for our souls.
But at a time when we need healthy, standing, diverse forests more than ever, they’re being cut down at an alarming rate and even shipped overseas by companies like Enviva, the world’s largest wood pellet producer, to be burned for dirty biomass power.
We’re in a climate emergency, and industrial logging in North Carolina is driving us closer and closer to climate disaster.
Last year, our report with Center for Sustainable Economy showed that logging in North Carolina releases 44 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, making it the state’s third most carbon intensive sector — just behind electricity and transportation. But this problem is flying under the radar: North Carolina’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory fails to accurately account for a significant amount of emissions from logging, forest degradation, and the biomass industry.
Unfortunately, these numbers may very well be increasing. In 2019, Enviva was approved for massive expansions at three of its four North Carolina wood pellet facilities, making North Carolina the world’s largest wood pellet exporter — even as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued harsh criticism of the wood pellet biomass industry in its 2019 Clean Energy Plan. These expansions will mean tens of thousands more acres of forests cut down each year, degrading our landscape as well as our ability to fight climate change.
When our forests are destroyed, degraded, and harvested, their climate and community benefits disappear.
Infuriatingly, these practices are not only allowed, they’re being subsidized domestically and abroad and falsely peddled by industry as climate solutions. The time is now to address the threats of industrial logging and false solutions like biomass — and advance real solutions to protect our forests, climate, and communities.
Stand4Forests is a call to rise up and demand forest protection, climate action, and justice for all, ushering in a new era where we value forests more standing than logged. The Stand4Forests movement has already been making waves. In 2018, over 200 organizations, scientists, and elected officials released the Stand4Forests platform, aligning around a bold vision for forest protection in the US as a vital climate solution. And right now, the Stand4Forests resolution is making its way through the Georgia legislature.
North Carolina is ground zero for forest destruction, but our state could be ground zero for forest protection. It’s time for North Carolina leaders to become Stand4Forests champions.
North Carolina has some of the most special forests in the world, and Governor Roy Cooper has made climate a top priority. But our forests are under attack, and dirty industries like Enviva continue to expand at the peril of our climate and communities. That’s why the time is now for Governor Cooper to put forest protection at the top of his priorities.
Here are three ways that Governor Cooper can be a Stand4Forests champion today.
- Strong forests = strong communities. Governor Cooper should put forest protection at the forefront of North Carolina’s resilience agenda by being a champion for bold forest protection policies through the recommendations and plans spurred by Executive Order 80, such as the upcoming NC Climate Risk Assessment & Resilience Plan.
- Acknowledge industry’s impacts. Governor Cooper should direct the NC Department of Environmental Quality to acknowledge and measure the true climate impact of industrial logging in North Carolina by updating the carbon accounting methodology of the land use and forestry sector in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory.
- Set the example. Following through on the NC Clean Energy Plan’s statements that wood pellet biomass “should be challenged at the national and international level,” Governor Cooper should amplify North Carolina’s position on biomass on the regional, national, and international level, leading the way on forest and energy policies that are rooted in science and justice.
What happens to our forests this year and the critical years ahead makes all the difference for our communities and climate. We can’t wait for change. We need our leaders to Stand4Forests today, holding industry accountable, dramatically scaling up forest protection, and shepherding a just transition for our communities.