Throughout the United States, wild forest ecosystems – those that exhibit little or no human disturbance – make a vital contribution to economic wellbeing by providing a host of goods and services that sustain both rural and urban communities. They produce clean drinking water and water for irrigation. They absorb carbon emissions, build soil, support wild pollinators that bolster agricultural productivity, control flooding, produce a variety of wood products, provide sites and scenery for recreation and tourism, and provide essential habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants valued as food, medicines, and genetic reservoirs. Ecosystem services from wild forests are irreplaceable.
Tragically, throughout the US, they are being lost as more and more wild forest is converted into industrial tree plantations that provide few of these ecosystem service benefits. An increasing share of what is cut is being shipped overseas as raw logs, pulp and biomass so US citizens are left with damaged forests and lost ecosystem services without any benefits from consumption of the wood products derived.
On federal, state, and local public lands, CSE believes the overriding management emphasis should be protecting and restoring wild forests for these ecosystem services since these lands make up only 20% of the forestland base in the country yet bear nearly the entire burden of supporting uses like outdoor recreation and water supply. On private lands, we believe that state forest practices statutes and rules should create the enabling conditions for sustainably managed forests that are put to work earning landowners multiple revenue streams from wood products and non-timber goods and services but in a manner that protects public trust resources including soil productivity, water, wildlife, fish and a stable climate. But decades of damage will need to be undone to make this possible and thus there is an urgent need for landscape-scale forest restoration programs.
The Pacific Northwest’s vast and diverse endowment of wild and working forests is a proving ground for reform of policies that affect both public and private lands. As such, most of CSE’s work is centered here for the time being. We have three major components to our WWF program:
Northwest Forest Plan revision
In the early 1990s CSE was instrumental in securing protection for millions of acres of ancient forests and northern spotted owl habitat in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California through our administrative appeals, litigation, work on federal legislation, research, education and management of a network of citizen forest watch volunteers. The culmination of this work and that of our partners was the Northwest Forest Plan – a regionally consistent conservation framework that applies to all federal forestlands within the owl’s range. As a compromise strategy, there have always been questions as to whether the NWFP was enough to save the owl and over 350 species of plants, animals, and fish that depend on native and ancient forests. Regardless, it is still viewed as an essential strategy for at very least holding the line on biodiversity loss. But the NWFP is now in trouble.
A new round of forest planning has begun that may weaken its core protections. Federal legislation to override these protections on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “O&C” lands in Oregon narrowly failed in 2013, but the threat remains and the momentum is being carried into the NWFP revision process.
A central part of CSE’s Wild and Working Forests (WWF) Program is thus participating in this new round of forest planning to ensure that the next generation of the NWFP as well as the individual national forest and BLM plans that it guides represent the best available science and implement a vision for restoration not only of the land but of the rural communities that depend on productive, healthy forest ecosystems for their economic futures. Our specific activities with respect to the NWFP revision process include:
- Monitoring and participating in the NWFP revision process through oral and written testimony, expert analysis of key issues, and community outreach and education.
- Providing environmental-economic analysis to inform key issues associated with the NWFP revision process.
- Challenging ongoing threats to the viability of ancient and native forest ecosystems on federal forestlands from logging, grazing, mineral extraction, road building, intensive recreation, energy projects, mismanagement of wildland fire, and other threats.
|PROJECT FILES AND LINKS|
|ADMINISTRATIVE CHALLENGE||CSE Protest|
|REPORT||Exhibit A: Negative Impacts of Logging (NRE)|
|REPORT||Exhibit B: Benefits and Costs of Logging (NRE)|
|REPORT||Exhibit C: CSE’s comments on the draft RMP and DEIS|
|NEPA COMMENTS||CSE comments on the Jordon Cove/Pacific Pipeline Connector Project DEIS|
|AGENCY WEBSITE||USDA Forest Service Region Six, Northwest Forest Plan Revision Process|
Oregon forest practices reform
Oregon’s state and private forestlands are in tragic condition. And things are getting worse as the conversion of forests to industrial tree plantations accelerates, as log exports rise, as population pressures increase, as the climate change signal grows stronger and as the political culture of deregulation deepens. Management of Oregon’s state and private forests has fallen far behind that of federal lands, scientific consensus, and the progress made in neighboring states.
Against this backdrop, CSE is working with a growing network of conservation, community, scientific, and rural development organizations to bring about deep reforms of forest management on state and private lands in Oregon. Our goal is to transform management of these lands into a vehicle of prosperity for people, plants, and animals. We are providing expert analysis of new legislative solutions, building capacity to monitor and enforce existing legal protections, and educating the public and decision makers about the scope of the problem and what needs to be done to address it. Current activities include:
- Working with foresters to develop and advocate for a new vision of sustainable forestry for state and private lands that maximizes economic wellbeing for workers and nearby communities.
- Educating legislators and the public about the litany of environmental, economic, and social harms associated with industrial forest practices and the wide range solutions to reverse them.
- Helping to organize the Oregon Forest Communities Council – a broad-based coalition of foresters, economic development practitioners, educators, conservationists, faith communities and sustainable business owners who recognize that sustainable forestry is key to Oregon’s rural economic prosperity.
- Exposing and challenging illegal logging including fraudulent practices such as the marketing of illegally logged timber as sustainable.
- Providing expert analysis and input on policy changes, legislation, or forest management projects.
- Participating in the Global Forest Watch network to monitor forest practices and conduct analysis on logging trends and impacts using real time satellite data.
Forest ecosystem restoration
The third leg of our WWF program is forest restoration. Worldwide, the Global Restoration Initiative’s goal is to initiate restoration across 150 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. We share that vision across multiple forest ecosystems in the United States where careless logging has left a legacy of damaged watersheds, extinct and extirpated species, soil erosion, water pollution, and tree plantations highly susceptible to a changing climate. Current activities include:
- A Restoration Strategy for Northwest Forests. This research publication will be submitted within the Northwest Forest Plan revision process as serve as a framework for CSE’s subsequent participation in federal forest planning.
- Seeds of Revival, a project to identify and conserve hot spots of native forest biodiversity that serve as blueprints for restoring forest landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.
- CSE has partnered with the FARM Center in Hawaii to demonstrate bio-regionally appropriate agro-forestry solutions for restoration of lands in the arid tropics.
- As part of its strategy for state and private forests, CSE is making the case for tax and cost share incentives to help landowners manage forests to maximize their carbon sink functions and resilience to climate change. This means converting “forest bomb” plantations into real forests that can better withstand drought and fire, rebuilding stream corridors, removing and replanting roadbeds, thinning overly dense stands, and letting beneficial fires burn.
|PROJECT FILES AND LINKS|
|PARTNER WEBSITE||The FARM Center, Hawaii|
|BLOG||Hawaii’s FARM Center Showcases Innovative Model of Agro-Forest Restoration|
|OPINION EDITORIAL||Oregonian, “Fight climate change by taxing timber harvests,” by John Talberth and Daphne Wysham|