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TNC Applauds USDA Proposal to Conserve Old-Growth Forests

The proposal marks an important step forward in harnessing the power of our nation’s forests to help address climate change.

Looking up toward the tops of old-growth trees in a Wisconsin forest.
Tenderfoot Forest Reserve This Northwoods preserve is a great place to see some of Wisconsin’s remaining old-growth forest. © Jim Schumaker

Media Contacts

  • Adrienne Egolf
    Associate Director of Communications
    The Nature Conservancy
    Email: aegolf@tnc.org

Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a proposal to amend 128 land management plans, with the goal to conserve and steward old-growth forest conditions on national forests and grasslands nationwide.

The proposed action would add plan components and other plan content to all land management plans and would provide for establishing an Adaptive Strategy for Old-Growth Forest Conservation, creating standards and goals for forest plans to manage for long-term persistence and establishing monitoring requirements. 

These actions build on the first-ever nationwide inventory of old-growth and mature forests established by the U.S. Forest Service in April 2023.

The following is a statement by Alix Murdoch, senior policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy: 

“The U.S.D.A.’s proposal to amend the land management strategies for units of the National Forest System is an important step forward in harnessing the power of our nation’s forests to help us address the climate and biodiversity crises. Mature and old-growth forest systems not only play a critical role in helping to reduce and store harmful carbon emissions, they also make our communities more resilient, provide clean air and water, and give wildlife room to roam. 

“In today’s announcement, Secretary Vilsack laid out a pragmatic, science-based and climate-smart approach to conserve and manage the current and future old-growth forests throughout our national forest system. This is an important step in institutionalizing the ecologically appropriate, proactive management strategies critical to ensure these valuable ecosystems and habitats survive and thrive.”

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Combined with a swift transition to renewable energy, natural climate solutions—like conserving, managing and restoring our forests—are crucial for helping us meet our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Combined with a swift transition to renewable energy, natural climate solutions—like conserving, managing and restoring our forests—are crucial for helping us meet our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. We applaud Secretary Vilsack and leaders of the U.S. Forest Service for their vision and leadership. This pragmatic approach is the kind of bold action needed to address the threats our forests face and secure the many benefits they provide for our children and grandchildren. We look forward to working with the administration to plan for conserving, managing and restoring the mature and old-growth forests of today and into the future.”  

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 more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.