in West Virginia.
Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. © Kent Mason

Newsroom

Senators Propose Expanding Reforestation Efforts

Proposal would help promote clean water, carbon sequestration

Arlington, Va.

A bipartisan group of senators today proposed to significantly expand reforestation efforts on federal forest lands to both improve forest health and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

“Investing in our forests is one of the clearest paths to a healthy and sustainable future for our planet, and this bill puts us on the right path,” said Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations at The Nature Conservancy. “Reforestation remains one of our most effective nature-based solutions for combatting climate change. Expanding reforestation efforts would also improve air quality, protect watersheds that provide drinking water for millions of people, preserve fish and wildlife habitats and expand outdoor recreation opportunities nationwide.”

The U.S Forest Service (USFS) estimates that 1.3 million acres of national forest land need reforestation, including lands that experienced wildfires and other major disturbances, yet current funding levels for the federal Reforestation Trust Fund only address about 15% of the reforestation backlog every year.

The legislation by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., sets a goal for USFS to address its reforestation backlog within 10 years. To support this goal, the bill would double annual funding for the Reforestation Trust Fund to $60 million and specify reforestation priorities on the national forest system. It would also explicitly include reforestation as an eligible project under USFS partnership contracting authorities.

“Reforestation is the kind of on-the-ground, scalable and effective strategy we need to implement to ensure our forests are here for future generations,” said Onley. “We commend these senators for coming together to forward this important investment in our forests, and we urge Congress to quickly enact this legislation.”

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 79 countries and territories, 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.