As a part of Earth Day commemorations, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new Executive Order today to help conserve forests at home and abroad and maximize their ability to combat climate change while reducing the risk of wildfires.
“Our forests are both heroes and victims in the story of climate change. The carbon-storing power of trees makes them some of our best solutions for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, but they are also in danger from the change that’s already happening,” said Darci Vetter, global head of policy and government relations at The Nature Conservancy. “Today’s Executive Order is a clear recognition of the critical role forests play for our climate and our communities. This science-based, cooperative approach to forest conservation and restoration is a smart strategy we should accelerate and amplify.”
Specifically, highlights of the Executive Order include:
- A science-based approach to wildfire resilience and forest restoration that includes an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, climate-smart stewardship strategies, and enhanced coordination between agencies, Tribes, communities and other local partners including private landowners.
- Recognition of the importance of nature in adapting to and mitigating climate change, through a cross-agency report on key opportunities for deploying nature-based solutions; guidance on valuing the services nature provides; and the first-ever assessment of the condition of nature in the United States.
- Agency-specific 2030 goals for reforestation, supported by partnership-based plans and expanding nursery and seed capacity.
- Efforts to fight global deforestation and support sustainable forest management around the world.
- Acknowledgment and advocacy for higher levels of forest restoration and wildfire resilience funding.
“It is simple: What is good for forests is good for people,” Vetter said. “There is so much potential for our forests to provide important solutions for the climate crisis. This Executive Order is a critical step and can serve as a catalyst to do even more. One clear and much-needed next step is for Congress to pass a climate and clean energy package this year. In addition, agencies and communities should collaborate to ensure the critical investments from the bipartisan infrastructure bill – including significant funding for wildfire resilience and healthy forests – are put to the best use quickly. There’s more to do, and today’s announcement will help clear the way.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.