The United States is home to some of the world’s most diverse forests. In the Southern US, our coastal plain is a global biodiversity hotspot. It’s a place where you can find yourself under towering tupelo giants or kayaking among cypress elders. The mature natural stands across the coastal plain of the South are areas where riparian and wetland forests in high-risk flood zones face logging rates estimated to be 4x that of South American rainforests. Southern forests are our nation’s most diverse– but least protected— forests. Protecting these forests is as vital to solving the climate and environmental justice crises as transitioning to clean, renewable energy.
Will the Biden administration embrace our forests or continue the status quo of cutting them down? Sign the petition to call on Biden to #Stand4Forests.
The reasons for protection are obvious:
- Standing forests are our only hope for removing and storing enough carbon from the atmosphere at the scale necessary to help stabilize the climate and keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees.
- Forests provide clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, soil and fresh air.
- They even provide natural flood control, helping to protect our communities from the worst impacts of climate change.
However, the US is among the world’s largest producers and consumers of wood products. Our forests are primarily looked upon as a wood-supply store. This paradigm completely ignores their life-supporting and climate stabilizing functions. And threats to our forests are accelerating as the use of wood for electricity generation has rapidly increased, despite scientific warnings that substituting coal or gas with wood will accelerate climate change.
Keeping forests standing presents a major opportunity for economic development. The US should embrace outdoor recreation, not more wood products. Outdoor recreation represents one of the largest potential avenues for “green” employment in the US South. In the latest stats from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Outdoor Recreation represented 2.5% of the total value added to the South’s economy. In 2017, this amounted to $152 trillion and accounted for 3.5% of the job market. Outdoor recreation in the South employs 1.8 million people, with an average salary of $39.7k per employee per year. However, when lands are tied up in commercial forest production, there’s less available for growing the outdoor recreation industry.
For decades, forest policy in the US has served to support the forest products industry. This has ensured economic returns for large corporations and private landowners at the expense of healthy forests, workers, and communities. The forest products industry is driving massive carbon emissions. They’re degrading forests, polluting the air and water, and compromising vital ecosystem services. The impacts, like so many other dirty and destructive industries, disproportionately harm low-income and communities of color.
President Biden is working to uphold his promises to address climate change and environmental justice.
We must urge Biden to establish strong, ecologically-sound, and environmentally-just protections for our forests, as they are central to fulfilling these pledges. Join us and sign the petition to the President!
From the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast, communities are calling for a Green New Deal for forests. Together we’ll meet the pressing needs of mitigating the climate crisis, defend communities against its worst impacts, and advance a just transition.