On January 27th President Biden signed a series of Executive Orders on Climate Change. One was an Executive Order to protect 30% of US lands by 2030. Another was on Environmental Justice, directing all federal agencies to invest in “low income and communities of color”. This includes Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities that have borne the brunt of pollution impacts.
With Biden’s Executive Order, we must address long-standing inequities related to forest protection in the US.
Standing forests are vital to solving the climate crisis, providing natural flood control, and ensuring fresh, clean drinking water. Yet, the South is at the forefront of global wood production. Low income, communities of color across the rural Southern Black Belt are at the epicenter of our region’s industrial logging and wood production. They are also on the frontlines of climate change, having suffered devastating impacts from the extreme flooding of the past five years.
Reverend Leo Woodberry and I wrote a piece taking a deep dive on what the Biden administration can do to protect forests and address environmental injustice in the Southern US.
You can read the full piece here on my Medium page
(Be sure to follow me on Medium while you’re there.)
Our key recommendations to ensure the Biden Administration acts to protect land and address these long-standing inequities are to commit to the following:
- Invest in forest protection in low income communities of color on the frontlines of industrial logging in the South
- Embrace the science documenting forest industry climate impacts
- Reject forest industry greenwashing
Dogwood Alliance works at the intersection of forest protection, climate change, and environmental justice. We believe that now is the time to address these long-standing crises. We’ll continue to work at the Federal level to ensure that our standing forests, local communities, and climate gain the protection and wins that they deserve.
Proforestation is the cheapest and fastest way of sequestering the most carbon – a job our forests are most uniquely positioned to perform.
Dear Danna, I wish we could be more supportive of your efforts but our group defends rural, low income households who use wood and pellets to heat their homes. Your efforts have tarnished the way millions of low income Americans heat their homes, including hundreds of thousands of native Americans. As you know, many of these people would love to switch to the ease of fossil fuel heating, but cannot afford to do so. We call on you to distinguish between grinding up whole trees to export wood pellets to Europe, from near subsistence households in the US that heat with wood. We believe wood heat has serious problems with pollution, but not serious problems with carbon, based on where families usually get their firewood. In many areas, its the tree trimmers selling back firewood that is more expensive for them to dispose of otherwise. For others, they use wood downed by storms, or whatever free wood they can find. We would love to talk to you more about this! Thank you for all that you do! John Ackerly
Thanks for reaching out. I am glad that we have been in dialogue for nearly ten years now.
I think it is overstating our impact to say that our work has tarnished the way millions of Americans heat their homes. We have never taken a position against subsistence or residential wood burning for cooking or heating your home. Our focus has always been on industrial forestry, the largest wood pellet producers, and the huge utilities in Europe and Asia that are burning our forests on a massive scale to produce electricity that harms local communities where the pellets are being produced and burned, that destroys large swaths of precious Southern forests, and is bad for our climate as burning wood for electricity releases more carbon than coal.
Thanks for staying engaged!
Forests are life-givers and life-sustainers. Without a dense, ample, well-protected forest cover, life would become impossible. Once we understand this truth, as a society, we will do everything in our power to ensure vast expanses of natural forest are fully protected.