Forest Protection

View Videos from the Protecting Forests in a Time of Climate Change Speaker Series

Watch: Why Trees Matter for Green Development

The Trees as a Public Good Network announces the online availability of “Why Trees Matter for Green Development.” This April 2024 forum, sponsored by 56 advocacy organizations, addresses the key issues of allowing forest trees to continue to grow to capture more carbon, siting solar on already-developed sites, and improving community well-being through municipal tree protection.  Speakers include: U.S. Senator Ed Markey, climate scientist William Moomaw, Meg Sheehan of the Community Land and Water Coalition, Linda Coombs of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe, State Senator Cindy Creem, Zbigniew Grabowski from UConn, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association’s Mimi Turchinetz, and Dorchester resident Aalana Feaster.

Deforestation is the second leading cause of global warming and produces about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists say that deforestation in tropical rainforests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of all the cars and trucks on the world’s roads.

How do forests help us?

There are many benefits of forests, which include: Remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, make and release oxygen, shade and cool homes, reduce flooding and prevent soil erosion, clean the air and water, keep the water cycle going.

How do we help forests?

Proforestation

… is an approach where existing forests are kept intact for the purpose of maximizing carbon sequestration and ecosystem services. Bill Moomaw’s 2019 article, “Intact Forests in the United States: Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good,” explains why proforestation is the best strategy to increase negative emissions using forests and how to best implement it.

Studies have shown that older trees absorb more carbon than younger trees, therefore it’s important that we protect these older forests and protect the forests that are becoming older.

  • Smithsonian article on Bob Leverett’s analysis of old trees and their contribution to forest health, carbon sequestration: The Old Man and the Tree by Jonny Diamond (January 2022).

Resources

Native People did not use fire to shape New England’s Landscape:”  in The Conversation, three scientists take issue with a myth that is used to justify the experimentation in progress at the Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area–a 1,500-acre state conservation property, (by Wyatt Oswald, Professor of Environmental Science, Emerson College, David R. Foster, Director, Harvard Forest, Harvard University, and Elizabeth Chilton, Dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Anthropology, Binghamton University, State University of New York. Jan. 20, 2020.)

Wildlands in New England: Past, Present, and Future Harvard Forest Paper 36, provides a New England focus on preserving wildness in the region and in each of the 6 states. (by David Foster, Emily E. Johnson, Brian R. Hall, Jonathan Leibowitz, Elizabeth H. Thompson, Brian Donahue, Edward K. Faison, Jamie Sayen, David Publicover, Nancy Sferra, Lloyd C. Irland, Jonathan R. Thompson, Robert Perschel, David A. Orwig, William S. Keeton, Malcolm L. Hunter Jr., Susan A. Masino, and Lillian Howell. 2023).

This hour-long Myth Busters recording tells us “What the forest Industry wants us to believe about cutting forests.” November 16, 2022

Forest and ecology experts Bill Stubblefield, Ph.D., Bart Bouricius, and Cheryl Joy Lipton dispel the most common justifications the forest industry uses to cut down our forests.

Myth Busters 2: Logging for Wildlife in New England Forests? Separating Truth from Fiction, with Michael Kellett and Joan Maloof, February 22, 2023

Click the image on the left or view the recording from the Save Public Forests YouTube page

Reference articles for Mythbusters 2:

The Issue of Solar vs. Trees — for more see Solar Siting Dilemmas

The Issue of Solar vs. Trees

Bill Moomaw 2021 interview:

“A Clark University study pointed out that half of land conversions in Massachusetts have been for solar panels–not for urban development, not for agriculture, not for highways. An informal study was done in Berkshire County where 37 solar arrays were put in place and just over half of those involved cutting forests. No one seems to have looked at wha this means for biodiversity. No one’s looked at connectivity for wildlife and plant migration as the climate warms. We have fabulous connectivity in corridors going from Western Massachusetts and Western Connecticut going all the way down into NY state and all the way up to Canada. These need to be maintained for adaptation to climate change.” Massachusetts Sierran, 2021 (v.26 n.1)

Who is working on this issue?

Smart Solar Western Mass. and Community Land and Water Coalition (Save the Pine Barrens) have formed an alliance to protect both ends of the state from development. Another organization, The Partnership for Policy Integrity, has provided research and testimony, including a May 2021 report stating:

It is shocking to see that the state’s renewable energy policy is actually incentivizing forest clearing for solar. Climate change mitigation is not just about reducing fossil fuel emissions. Climate modeling is crystal-clear that we need to not only reduce emissions, but actually sequester CO2 that has already been emitted. Restoring and expanding forests is the only means under our control to achieve this at scale…. The state should not have a policy that pits solar against forests. Policies should offer incentives for preserving and expanding forests, not destroying them.”

The Issue Around Bioenergy/Biomass

“According to Professor Bill Moomaw of Tufts (lead author on several IPCC reports), “wood energy is not low carbon.” While forest-based bioenergy is widely considered to be a renewable fuel source (new trees can grow  to replace those that are consumed) burning wood to generate electricity is typically 50 percent more carbon-intensive than coal-fired generation2. Today 60 percent of the European Union’s renewable energy comes from bioenergy. It does not make economic sense to import eight million tons of wood pellets yearly across the Atlantic Ocean – but the British government provides over $1 billion in annual subsidies to utilities to pay the cost of pellet production and transport. The U.S. forest products industry and U.K. power companies are profiting from activities that have serious harmful impacts on Earth’s climate. A significant percentage of U.S. southeastern forests have been clear-cut to supply this subsidized demand. And efforts are well underway to do the same in the northeast. We need to stop this trend!

This article describes these dynamics in detail.

500 scientists say “Trees are more valuable alive than dead both for climate and for biodiversity. To meet future net zero emission goals, your governments should work to preserve and restore forests and not to burn them.” Here is their letter telling leaders in the EU, Japan and the U.S. not to cut and burn trees for energy. 

Telephone Gap, Vermont logging project information

(comment period ended March 13, 2023)

This 2016 video from Greenpeace Unearthed shows in a minute and a half what difference 750 billion trees make with climate change.

Here the BBC explains how the fungal network in the ground supports the forest: How trees secretly talk to each other – BBC News

More on How trees talk to each other: Canadian ecologist Suzanne Simard’s 18 minute TED talk from June 2016.

The biotic pump allows forests to “bring the rain” and lower the chance of drought.

In Climate Change: The Water Paradigm, another animation shows the relationship of cutting down trees to climate change and the flood/drought cycle.

View the NoToxicBioMass campaign pages of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition