Our Forests. Our Strength.
If you speak to a logger, forester, or executive at a paper company, they are quick to tell you that we need to create wood products to keep our forests healthy. They say that cutting trees down somehow keeps forests around. However, wood products companies only care about the ability of forests to provide a steady supply of wood. In reality, our forests in the South are suffering from extreme logging practices.
Shareholder reports paint a promising picture of the wood pellet export business. Behind record profit quarters is a longstanding pattern of accepting government subsidies just to stay competitive against other forms of renewable energy. With our need to act swiftly on climate change, we cannot continue to support a noncompetitive, polluting, and forest destroying industry at the expense of truly low-carbon technologies like wind and solar.
Wood pellets are seen by some as a solution to the climate change crisis. However, wood pellets damage our forests, our climate, and the communities where they are produced and used. Wood pellets release significant greenhouse gases when burned. We need new policies designed to reduce logging and leave more forests standing.
Recently, there have been talks about planting trees as a way to offset climate change. Planting trees may help cities stay cool, but won’t be good in other ways. Instead, we must do more to restore natural forests. Natural forests have the ability to clean water, purify air, and provide homes for wildlife. We believe that the concept of proforestation, allowing natural forests to grow older, is a better and lower cost answer for the complex problem of climate change.
Forests clean our water and clean our air. Forests provide homes for wildlife, keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, and can even prevent floods. Some believe that “carbon markets” may be a way to fix climate change. However, others have serious concerns about carbon markets. Carbon markets may not be scalable or effective. And carbon markets might cause justice issues in local communities.
Economic development can be difficult in rural communities, especially in the South. Community members and elected officials want to be sure that the companies not only provide well paying jobs for decades to come but also serve as “good actors” in the community. Unfortunately, many companies mislead politicians about their impacts on health and pollution in order to set up shop.
The rate of forest destruction from industrial logging in the Southeastern region alone is estimated to be four times greater than in South American rainforests.
The Great American Stand is a report co-authored by Dogwood’s Executive Director Danna Smith and IPCC scientist Dr. Bill Moomaw. The report shows how industrial logging is a major driver of carbon emissions and is a cause of both environmental and social justice impacts.
Dogwood’s report with Center for Sustainable Economy puts a spotlight on North Carolina and tells the story of just how big of a climate catastrophe logging is in the state. The evidence shows that forest destruction is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and is making climate change worse.
We can’t solve the climate crisis without our forests. Forests are one of the best tools we have to keep carbon out of the atmosphere because each year they absorb carbon and store it in their roots, leaves, and wood. We need to improve, restore, and protect our forests across the planet.
How did we get here? Our Forests & Climate brief A History of Forests in the US South digs into the story of how we’ve arrived at this moment in time where we’re rapidly degrading and losing our natural Southern forests.
In the US South, more than half of our forests are less than forty years old, and many are degraded as a result of constant logging without proper regeneration.
How much does industry actually affect our forests? The truth is staggering. In the 1600s, there were over a billion acres of forest in the continental United States, with roughly a third of those acres in the US South. In less than 100 years, industry destroyed over a hundred million acres of forests in the US South, and that was just the beginning.
You can’t put a price tag on nature, but there is a real dollar value to all the services our forests provide, particularly the services that come from the wetland forests in the Southern US. Check out our work that details the $500 billion worth of ecosystem services provided by forested wetlands stretching from Virginia to Texas.
What is the connection between forest protection, climate action, and justice for all?
“We must right the wrongs that have not only destroyed our forests, climate, air, and water but also placed the burden on vulnerable communities that have suffered the most. By restoring the forest — as well as the air, water, and climate — we can restore our communities, our relationship to each other and our morality.” – Reverend Leo Woodberry & Danna Smith
Low income communities and communities of color living in rural areas are among the worst hurt by the impacts of climate change. Many of these communities are hit the hardest by extreme flooding, for example, which has left many homeless or otherwise financially burdened after having to flee their homes.
Together we can build a movement to increase forest protection and end forest destruction.
We need leaders at the local, state, and national level to commit to Stand4Forests. Take the Stand4Forests platform directly to your elected official: here’s a pdf you can print and bring to a meeting with you. Afterward, fill out the information on Stand4Forests.org or send the endorsement directly to:
c/o Rita Frost
PO Box 7645
Asheville, NC 28802