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Forest Protection

Background: Forests are essential to combating climate change. Trees are carbon sinks, actively pulling carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow and locking it up in leaves, bark, roots and soil (sequestration). Clearing the land of trees releases most of this carbon to the atmosphere. (Drawdown).

Old growth forests are naturally more fire-resistant than young forests since trees are larger and there is less undergrowth. Old trees grow faster than young trees and mature forests sequester more carbon than an immature forest, so it should be a priority goal to protect all old growth (primary) forest from logging or degradation.

Wildfires are an increasing cause of deforestation and carbon emissions, but improving Wildfire Management can reduce the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

There are large-scale threats to both Tropical Forests and Boreal Forests. These are in other parts of the world, but locally we can make consumer choices to help reduce the impact on these forests.

Living trees and forests do more work against climate change than substituting wood for high-emission materials like cement. If wood must be used, timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council has been shown to be climate-friendly in an analysis by Ecotrust.

Regulations for logging on private lands (mostly conifers like redwood and Douglas fir) fall under California’s 1973 Forest Practice Act, which issues permits for timber harvesting plans (THPs).

There is very little state-level protection for non-coniferous forests, like oak woodlands. Your local jurisdiction can pass a Tree Ordinance to limit conversion of woodlands to agriculture or development.

Goals: Preserve old-growth forests from logging or conversion. Conservation easements may be a useful tool for protecting forests on private land. Promote climate-friendly logging which uses uneven-aged selective logging and lengthens logging rotation periods (times between harvests).

Existing Programs

  • Sonoma County Ag Preservation & Open Space District
    In 1990, Sonoma County residents created the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to permanently protect the greenbelts, scenic viewsheds, farms and ranches and natural areas of Sonoma County.
  • Climate Action Through Conservation
    C-CAT is a GIS model that can be run for a county or other jurisdiction . It estimates how changes in land use, land management, and land cover affect landscape carbon sequestration and conservation values over time, and helps to identify ...
  • Carbon credits used to purchase Buckeye Forest
    The Buckeye Forest in Sonoma County was purchased to be used for sustainable forestry, restoration, grazing and public recreation by combining funds from nonprofits and carbon credits from California’s Cap & Trade Program.
  • Sierra Club Forest Carbon Policy
    Policies that will: protect old-growth and mature forests, achieve sustainable food & fiber production while protecting ecosystem services, and promote responsible, effective policies for carbon offsets and sequestration.
  • Forest Carbon Reserve
    The creation of a Forest Carbon Reserve will be an essential part of any future Green New Deal. It would result in a substantial reduction in, and avoidance of, carbon emissions from forest degradation and fossil fuel production…
  • Sierra Club Report: Forests, Wood & Climate
    Is using wood beneficial or detrimental in the fight against climate change? Forest protection and stewardship are key.