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Groups tell Biden Administration: Let Older Trees Grow

Environmental Organizations urge Biden administration to use old growth and mature forests as a climate solution
For Immediate Release

RALEIGH, NC — Environment North Carolina, SELC, and dozens of other conservation groups launched an effort Tuesday to focus on protecting mature trees and forests on federal lands that are most critical in the fight against climate change. The Climate Forests campaign is calling on the Biden administration to kick off a new era of climate and forest policy in which trees and forests are valued as key pieces of the climate solution.

 “We need to protect more of our forests across the globe to fend off the impending biodiversity and climate crises,” said Krista Early, Environment North Carolina advocate.  This campaign calls for the Biden administration to take the first step toward meaningful safeguards for forests in the U.S. – by protecting the most important standing trees in those forests. “We can no longer allow our forests to be logged to the detriment of biodiversity and the climate crisis. It’s time to adopt a new policy: Let these trees grow.”

Forests – particularly old growth and  mature forests – store vast amounts of carbon and continue absorbing carbon as they age. Harvesting these trees releases much of that carbon back into the atmosphere, worsening the impacts of climate change.

“The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the South – from increased flooding to rising sea levels,” said Patrick Hunter, Managing Attorney of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Asheville Office. “Fully utilizing the potential of our National Forests to sequester and store carbon by leaving important tracts of older trees standing is the most straightforward and cost-effective climate change solution currently available to us.”

Protecting mature and old-growth forests would be a key piece of the Biden administration’s government-wide approach to tackling the climate crisis. Unfortunately, significant amounts of these forests remain at risk to commercial timber harvesting even though they are far more valuable as carbon storage reservoirs and biodiversity strongholds than they are on the backs of logging trucks.

“Sadly, our Southern forests have undergone centuries of extensive – and at times irresponsible – logging and they don’t have a lot of old growth left,” Hunter said. “That’s why it is essential that we also protect mature forests and older trees that are next in line to become old growth forests and are already providing immense carbon benefits in their own right.”

As part of The Climate Forests campaign, groups have launched a website with additional information about old growth and mature forests and details on how the Biden administration can fully use these incredible natural resources.