“Now, more than ever, we need to take an 'all-lands' approach to managing our nation's forests, whether they are national forests or under the stewardship of state or private entities.”
—Thomas J. Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, (Land Letter, Aug. 19, 2010)
Working Forests, Winning Climate
Forests comprise one third of the United States and play an invaluable role as carbon sinks, which cool the climate by safely absorbing and storing the greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere. However, nearly two-thirds of U.S. forests are privately owned and threatened by degradation, development or conversion to land uses that would actually create emissions, rather than contain them.
Recognizing this critical threat, since its founding the Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) has worked to ensure that the conservation and stewardship of forests is recognized as an essential part of any comprehensive approach to fighting global warming. Since 1993, PFT has led initiatives to safeguard America's forest infrastructure through conservation of working landscapes and the development of markets for ecosystem services from forests, such as climate stabilization. Through its Working Forests, Winning Climate program, PFT has been instrumental in creating the policy and market frameworks to expand the conservation and carbon stewardship of U.S. forests to help solve our climate crisis.
Concurrently, PFT has demonstrated the feasibility of these policies by developing successful pilot emissions reduction projects from coast to coast, including the first to be verified under the California's rigorous rules, called the Van Eck Forest Project, located in Humboldt, CA.
Based on its success, PFT has been asked to consult on, design or manage numerous other carbon projects and initiatives.
PFT policy staff played a key role in the working group that revised and expanded the nation’s leading standards for forest carbon projects – the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) Forest Project Protocol. In 2009, PFT participated in several efforts to develop or refine forest-carbon accounting standards with national applicability. Now we are helping others develop projects designed to meet this standard in a number of states, including Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Maine. These new initiatives represent major growth in the national forest carbon market landscape and present an exciting opportunity to demonstrate our forest stewardship model in other geographic regions.
Currently PFT is working with a multitude of working lands stakeholders to call on policymakers to safeguard U.S. forests and their climate benefits in legislation that would regulate greenhouse gas emissions. For U.S. forests and other working lands to be leveraged for significant and lasting climate benefits, PFT recommends a strategy to:
* USDA/DOE, "Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry," 2005
As California develops its plan to achieve its climate goals under AB 32, PFT is working closely with the ARB and stakeholders to ensure that the contributions of forests as a sector are recognized in a comprehensive way. The state has adopted PFT's framework that calls for measuring and monitoring forest carbon stocks and changes, mitigating losses, and marketing gains.