From the Forest, For the Forest since 1995

To Cool the Planet, Restoration Forestry Must Be Part of the Solution

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A Statement on the COP21 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, France

by Raul F. Hernandez, Founder & CEO of and Old-Growth Again Restoration Forestry, Inc.

As world leaders, scientists, policy makers, and environmental activists gather in Paris to craft a binding agreement to address the climate crisis on a planetary scale, it will be crucial to consider the role that forest restoration can play as an essential component of a comprehensive solution to the problem. The reason for this is simple: a mature, old-growth forest is one the most effective ways to help achieve the levels of carbon sequestration needed to slow down the warming trend.

Of course, the first objective of any agreement with regard to forests must be to drastically slow the rate of deforestation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest are destroyed each year, mostly through burning, resulting in nearly 3 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) added to the atmosphere annually (17% of all greenhouse gas emissions).[1, 2] The UN-REDD program is one example of an initiative aimed at reversing this trend—especially focusing on tropical forests in the developing world.[3] This work represents important “triage” to stop the bleeding; however, by itself it’s not enough.

Intensifying the practice of sustainable forestry is a second step. One of the biggest changes in the past 20 years has been the emergence of a certification regime for sustainably managed forestlands and the lumber they produce. The key player here is the Forest Stewardship Council, which to date has certified over 187 million hectares globally.[4] This is why, when you go into your local Big Box hardware store to buy lumber, you’re likely see FSC certified wood as one option. Buying sustainably harvested wood is a good way of preventing the most egregious clear-cutting and other abuses.

However, there is one more step we can take as a planet that goes beyond even sustainable forestry—and that’s actually restoring forestlands to their ancient, old-growth state over longer periods of time. This practice is called restoration forestry—and it requires an even more stringent approach than sustainable forestry, resulting in more robust forestlands, with greater biomass acting as a “sink” for CO2. This is key. Forests under restoration forestry management sequester two and half to three times more carbon in perpetuity than forests managed under the strictest “sustainable forestry” standards.[5]

The good news is that restoration forestry can be practiced in conjunction with modest harvesting of lumber to create consumer value at the same time it restores the land. Indeed, the lumber becomes even more valuable over time as the forest returns to its pre-industrial “old-growth” state, due to its overall higher quality and the greater amounts available. It only requires a longer-term perspective, which after all, is what climate change is requiring us to learn.

My company, Forever Redwood, produces extremely high-quality redwood patio furniture and shade structures using wood from over 15,000 acres we help manage with our partners in northern California. [6] We’ve been working for almost 20 years and have seen the results firsthand. And ours is just one small example of an ecological and economical model that can be scaled worldwide.

We join our human family around the world in hopes for a successful outcome to the COP21 climate talks. We are especially encouraged to see that the Global Commission on Economy and the Climate (New Climate Economy) recently stated that “Protecting valuable forests and restoring degraded lands is a Climate-Economic Growth Triple Win.”[6]

We believe that in addition to curbing fossil fuel emissions, promoting clean energy sources, redoubling conservation efforts, and many other significant pieces of the puzzle, a focus on restoration forestry is one of the most important things we can be doing as a planet to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change while restoring the Earth’s ecological balance for our grandchildren and their children to come. For more on Forever Redwood’s restoration forestry practices, see link [5] below.


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