Protecting America's old-growth forests: A call for immediate action

Protecting America's mature and old-growth forest is a crucial climate solution and vital to the health of our shared planet. Image Credit: Galyna Andrushko, Envato Elements.

Protecting America's old-growth forests: A call for immediate action

In a remarkable convergence of science, conservation, and climate activism, more than 200 leading scientists and an equal number of environmental organizations, including One Earth, have made a direct appeal to President Joe Biden to protect America's mature and old-growth (MOG) forests. 

This collective action seeks an immediate executive moratorium to halt logging activities within all MOG forests across the nation's public lands. Spearheaded by the John Muir Project and Wild Heritage, this coalition represents a unified stand against the ongoing threats to these invaluable ecosystems by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. 

The imperative to act

Despite President Biden's initial directive to explore conservation options for these critically important climate forests, federal agencies have, paradoxically, ramped up timber sale proposals targeting the very heart of America's last, best MOG forests. This defiance not only contradicts public sentiment and scientific advice but also jeopardizes the Biden administration's own environmental commitments.

Mature and old-growth forests are being destroyed, despite the Biden Administration's initial directives to prioritize conservation. Image Credit: Photovs, Envato Elements.

Why preserving old-growth forests is a climate solution

Mature and old-growth forests stand as bastions of biodiversity, providing unique and complex habitats that are critical for the survival of many species. These ancient ecosystems are not only crucial for their ecological richness but also act as effective carbon sinks, helping to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the effects of climate change.

Beyond their roles in maintaining biodiversity and carbon storage, these forests exhibit remarkable resilience to natural disturbances. This resilience demonstrates their ecological stability and vitality, as they can recover from events such as wildfires, storms, and pest outbreaks.

Together, these attributes underscore the irreplaceable value of mature and old-growth forests in sustaining ecological balance.

Mature and old-growth forests act as formidable carbon storage systems, sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Image Credit: Galyna Andrushko, Envato Elements.

Mature and old-growth forests act as formidable carbon storage systems, sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Image Credit: Galyna Andrushko, Envato Elements. 

A unified call for action

The sign-on letters articulate a clear and comprehensive case for the moratorium. The following are the key points:

  1. Immediate Executive Action: We express gratitude for the steps already taken toward protecting. MOG forests. However, we stress the need for swift executive action through a signed and issued order. Such action holds the potential to establish enduring protections for MOG forests, ensuring their preservation for future generations.
  2. Acknowledging Logging as a Primary Threat: The signatories call for the identification of logging as a primary threat to forest carbon storage and biodiversity. Addressing logging as the foremost concern is crucial, given its impact on our ecosystems.
  3. Closure of Logging Loopholes: The letter advocates for the closure of existing loopholes that permit logging under the guise of forest health or fire management. Preserving felled trees as essential habitat and stored carbon is emphasized.
  4. Inclusion of Mature Forests: The coalition insists on the full protection of not only old-growth but also mature forests from logging. Recognizing mature forests as vital components of future old-growth ecosystems is crucial for comprehensive conservation efforts.
  5. Enduring Protection Regardless of Natural Processes: Signatories call for a commitment to the enduring protection of designated areas, irrespective of future natural processes. This includes safeguarding MOG forests from logging after events like insect outbreaks, wildfires, or wind storms.
  6. Full Protection for Tongass Old-Growth: The letter demands the removal of the Tongassold-growth logging exemption. Upholding the conservation in this region is vital for the global biodiversity and carbon importance of the Tongass.

The call to immediately suspend logging within mature and old-growth forests is more than a conservation effort; it's a critical climate solution. The diverse coalition of nonprofit organizations, environmental advocates, and scientists is a testament to the power of collective action in the face of environmental crisis. 

Together, we can ensure these ancient forests stand tall for generations to come.

Read the Full Letter

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