Biden Vows to End Old-Growth Logging in US Forests by 2025

The Executive Order will be conditional on President Biden being re-elected president

Wed 20 Dec 23


Less than 12 months from the US elections, President Biden has vowed to end logging old-growth forests in US forests by 2025, which he said “will protect millions of trees that play a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis.”

The proposal comes after an executive order signed by the president on Earth Day in 2022, directing the US Forest Service and the Land Management Bureau to conduct an inventory of old-growth and mature forests and develop policies to protect them.

“We think this will allow us to respond effectively and strategically to the biggest threats that face old growth,” the US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Washington Post this morning. 

“At the end of the day, it will protect not just the forests but also the culture and heritage connected to the forests.”

The commitment follows through on a 2022 Executive Order made on World Earth Day – however, it will be conditional on President Biden being elected next year – footage courtesy of @abcnews.

The US Forest Service oversees 193 million acres (or 78 million hectares) of forests and grasslands, of which 144 million (58 million hectares) are forests. 

Its inventory found that 80% was either old-growth or mature forests, with 32 million acres (12 million hectares) and 80 million (32 million hectares) of mature forests on federal land.

The Land Management Bureau defines old-growth forests as those with trees in later stages of stand development, typically at least 120 years of growth, depending on species. 

In 2022, shortly before Biden announced his executive order, a group of more than 130 scientists wrote a letter to Biden advocating a ban on logging in old-growth forests.

“Older forests provide the most above-ground carbon storage potential on Earth, with mature forests and larger trees driving the most accumulation of forest carbon in the critical next few decades,” the letter read. “Left vulnerable to logging, though, they cannot fulfil these vital functions.”

The ban, conditional on President Biden being reelected next year, will come into effect in early 2025, allowing the Forest Service to finalise rules protecting old-growth forests from logging. 

Last week, President Biden said “stopping Donald Trump from being reelected” is his motivation to run in 2024 – footage courtesy of @BBCNews.

Because it comes under an executive order, its existence depends on the outcome of the 2024 presidential election, making advocates worried about the protections’ vulnerability to the country’s political climate.

But federal agencies have also been under pressure from the timber industry, which argues that logging creates economic activity and helps to fight wildfires. 

The proposal focuses on old-growth forests, leaving mature forests still vulnerable to logging, which is a middle ground between environmentalists and the timber industry.

Chris Wood, the president of Trout Unlimited and a former official with the US Forest Service, told the Associated Press the policy “is a step in the right direction”.

“This is the first time the Forest Service has said its national policy will be to protect old growth,” Wood said.

However, others argue that this is just President Biden’s first step toward fulfilling his executive order.

“Protecting our old-growth trees from logging is an important first step to ensure these giants continue to store vast amounts of carbon, but other older forests also need protection,” Randi Spivak, public lands policy director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

  • With additional reporting from the Guardian.


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