On Earth Day, President Joe Biden signed an executive order in Seattle to protect some of the country’s largest and oldest trees, which had been decimated by wildfires, drought, and disease in the past several decades.
In addition to sequestering carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, old-growth trees also operate as crucial carbon sinks and climate change buffers.
Federal land managers must locate and document mature and old-growth forests across the country within one year, according to a directive issued by President Joe Biden. It also directs agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service to do research and develop policies to safeguard elder trees from wildfires and climate change, among other things.
According to the White House, the directive does not prohibit the logging of mature or old-growth trees from being carried out.
While his government is coping with rising oil and gas prices as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden may publicly reinforce his commitment to the environment by signing the directive on Friday, according to reports. As a result of rising gas costs, President Biden’s reputation has taken a hit. However, the Democratic president has focused his attention on the escalating wildfires that are a direct effect of climate change.
National forests that have been severely damaged by wildfires, drought, or blight, such as those that have recently burned to the ground in California, will be protected under this Act. Several native species and watershed supplies in the Western United States are dependent on redwood trees for their habitat, which are among the world’s most effective at absorption and storage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Wildfires of such intensity that they have killed trees that were previously thought to be practically fireproof have caused concern among land managers, conservationists, and tree aficionados around the world. Fires fueled by global warming and a century of fire suppression have wiped out ancient civilizations’ worth of trees, which have become entangled in dense undergrowth.
In addition to absorbing more than 10 percent of the country’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases, woods also act as a flood barrier, purifier of groundwater, purifier of air, and sanctuary for a diversity of wildlife. Before the directive was made public, the official in issue insisted on keeping nameless to explain its specifics.
Despite a flurry of climate-related pledges, Biden’s ambitious climate agenda has experienced setbacks. The president conducted a virtual summit on global warming at the White House last Earth Day. He seized the moment to roughly treble the United States’ objective for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, vaulting the country to the front lines in the fight against climate change.
Despite increasing warnings from scientists that the globe is speeding toward a hazardous future marked by excessive heat, drought, and storms, his most far-reaching recommendations remain frozen on Capitol Hill a year later.
Climate change politics have been upended by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and President Biden’s call for increased domestic oil exploration to decrease gas costs that are draining Americans’ wallets.
The absence of further progress on green policies overshadows Biden’s second Earth Day as president, despite his efforts to raise vehicle fuel economy standards and include green programs in last year’s bipartisan infrastructure package.
The possible impact of the order on the forest management system, according to wood industry spokesperson Nick Smith, is of particular worry to forest managers, who are already battling to keep up with the increase in wildfires caused by climate change.
According to an industry group in Oregon, Biden’s proposal to double the amount of logging and controlled fires in the tinder-dry West would undercut the Biden administration’s plan, which is a goal that would undermine the Biden administration’s plan.
‘The federal government has an urgent commitment to reduce large greenhouse gas emissions from big wildfires, which can only be accomplished by successfully managing our sick and overstocked federal forests,’ he asserts.
As opposed to this view, Jim Furnish (a former Deputy Chief of the United States Forest Service) believes that removing smaller trees that can cause uncontrolled blazes while leaving mature trees in place would be more helpful in addressing wildfire hazards and climate change.
According to Furnish of the Forest Service, “for a long time, the Forest Service provided financial support for the removal of lesser trees by permitting older trees worth more to be logged.” As a result of the $5 billion in wildfire risk reduction funding included in last year’s infrastructure package, he claims that this is no longer necessary. As a result of a new law, firefighters will be paid at least $15 per hour on the job.
Republicans and Democrats have advocated for more rigorous thinning of the forest stand to eliminate small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires over the last two decades, resulting in a more than twofold increase in the amount of lumber harvested and sold from federal forests across the country.
Authorities are under criticism for allegedly permitting the removal of an excessive number of fire-resistant elder trees, according to critics, who include a large number of forest scientists.
A letter signed by 135 scientists was sent to President Joe Biden, urging him to protect mature and old-growth forests as part of the climate solution.
In the coming decades, mature forests and larger trees will be responsible for the vast bulk of forest carbon accumulation in mature forests, according to the World Resources Institute. According to a study presented on Thursday, if they are subjected to logging, they will be unable to carry out their fundamental responsibilities well. The letter’s signatories included Norman Christensen, Duke University’s founding dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and professor emeritus. Christensen was also a signatory to the letter.
Forest preservation would also serve as an essential and highly visible model for other large forest-holding countries as they grapple with the difficulties of climate change, the researchers write in their paper.