On January 31, 2023 we held a one hour zoom meeting where Dr. Beverly Law summarized her findings about old and mature forests and the values they hold for carbon storage, biodiversity, water quality and quantity, and habitat. The results of numerous empirical studies completed by a broad population of researchers documents the critical importance of mature and old forests, and large diameter trees as natural climate solutions. Protecting our old forests (and trees) and allowing young forests to mature into net carbon sinks (typically 80 to 100 years, depending on species) is essential to staying below an increase of 1.5 deg. C; a threshold after which catastrophic climate events are expected.
Here is an Executive Summary of Dr. Law’s presentation, and a PDF of her PowerPoint. I’ve also included an April 2022 letter to President Biden drafted by Dr. Law (OSU) and Dr. Schlesinger (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies), and a summary statement of issues drafted by Dr. Dominick DelaSalla and me for a forest event we held at Worthy Brewing last August. There are three specific independent but related actions we need to initiate immediately:
Issue a moratorium or stay on removal of large diameter (>21” DBH) on federal lands across the nation. Timber companies see the writing on the wall and have increased logging to maximize profits before rules are developed or policy is implemented. These actions threaten the ability to utilize our national resources as climate solutions. We cannot allow this to happen and must work immediately to stop the destruction of our most critical natural resource.
Protect, through executive order or rule, the remaining old and mature forests (Forest Reserves) in Oregon, Washington, and SE Alaska identified by Dr. Law and others as critical pockets of carbon capture and storage, biodiversity, and habitat. Areas that capture and store more carbon than any other temperate forest in the world must be protected to help meet climate targets sets by President Biden in two recent Executive Orders.
Develop a national rule for the preservation of old and mature forests throughout the country including Alaska. Our actions to preserve mature and old forests, and the need to recognize and enhance the services these environments provide in mitigating human impacts on our global climate cannot be limited to a few regions but must include essential areas in every forest type across the country.
Enjoy the summary, and feel free to contact me directly with questions or comments. The timing to move on these and related findings is NOW! We don’t have time to keep talking about climate change without implementing very real and effective actions.
Richard Martinson, PhD Executive Director, Worthy Environmental