Tongass Rainforest

Preserving Old Growth Forests while Supporting Livelihoods in the Tongass Rainforest

Recognizing the importance of Tongass old-growth rainforests in sequestering the equivalent of over 8% of the nation’s annual emissions, the US Secretary of Agriculture issued a directive to the Forest Service in 2013 to transition away from old-growth logging and into ‘suitable’ young- growth acres that can support the timber industry in perpetuity. Suitable young-growth acres are those considered to be assessible by currently open Forest Service roads (no road building required) and have relatively low ecological values due to non-regulated pulp and paper harvest regimes that occurred decades ago. With the best information on hand at the time, the directive from the Secretary assumed that it would take at least 16-years of continued old-growth logging to achieve a transition. Since then, Geos Institute has spearheaded innovative research to greatly accelerate the transition to young-growth logging in the next half decade. We focused on defining a pathway to move from a ‘wall of litigation” resulting from continued old-growth logging to a “wall of wood” through suitable young-growth acres available to support industry.

In 2015, we conducted the most intensive in-field timber inventory ever on the Tongass. This resulted in identifying a young-growth transition that could regrow an ecologically and socially responsible forest-products industry in a half decade while protecting millions of acres of at-risk old-growth forests. A year later, we took the lead in helping the Forest Service to secure Congressional funding to inventory over 25,000 acres of suitable young-growth forests that built on our initial results. We are now actively engaged in securing important funding for a Tongass-wide young-growth manufacturing and marketing study to be completed by 2021, a final step in demonstrating how the Forest Service can rapidly transition out of old-growth logging.

In 2019 we opened an office in Juneau to increase our presence and reach with decision-makers.

Geos Institute asks Forest Service to speed up its transition by filing an objection to its logging plans

Objections to Tongass Forest Plan amendment start rolling in

by Aaron Bolton, (originally published in KSTK News)
August 3, 2016 6:00 am

The U.S. Forest Service announced its plan for a 16-year transition toward young-growth Tongass timber harvests in late June. In the midst of the 60-day comment period, industry and environmental groups are starting to submit their objections.

Both the industry and environmental groups on either side of the Tongass Land Management Plan amendment can agree on one thing: the Forest Service needs to complete a full inventory of young-growth Tongass timber.

But their reasons are fundamentally different.

Geos Institute objects to Forest Service plan to log primary rainforest on the Tongass

The Tongass is one of the world’s last great temperate rainforests and is under threat of clearcut logging that will eliminate over 43,000 acres of old growth, mostly in the next 16 years. The logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s climate change policies as it would lead to emissions equivalent of nearly 4 million vehicles annually. There is a better way to transition logging to previously logged and regrown forests that will help save Alaska’s rapidly changing climate and create sustainable timber jobs but only if President Obama steps in to direct the Forest Service’s rogue logging plan.

Read the full objection here in a letter sent July 27, 2016 to the USDA Forest Service

Siuslaw forestry practices offer great example for Tongass

By Dominick DellaSala, Catherine Mater, and Jim Furnish

For The Register-Guard, July 16, 2016

The recent release of the U.S. Forest Service’s old growth logging plans for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest stalls urgent climate change protections and relies on old school forestry.

What happens in the Tongass is important to Oregonians, and the nation, because this national forest absorbs about 8 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution annually — far more than any other forest. And what is happening in the Siuslaw National Forest can inform the Tongass.

The Tongass plan calls for continued old growth logging, mostly over the next 16 years, threatening 43,000 acres of Tongass rainforest. This long time frame will unnecessarily release the equivalent emissions of 4 million vehicles annually over the next 100 years at a time when nations are looking to cut back on carbon pollution.

Tongass logging plan is an embarrassment to President Obama’s climate change policies

The Tongass National Forest is the nation’s carbon champion, storing about 8% of the nation’s annual global warming emissions in its productive old-growth rainforests. The Forest Service proposes to clearcut 43,000 acres of old growth, mostly in the next 16 years. Logging emissions would release the equivalent emissions of 4 million vehicles annually while squandering one of the world’s last relatively intact temperate rainforests.

Media Coverage

 

My Turn: Tongass transition plan lacks initiative

By Dominick A. DellaSala and Jim Furnish, for the Juneau Empire

Change is not for the risk averse. It is scary stuff that takes us out of our comfort zones and into the unknown.

It’s also how we adapt, meet challenges and improve outcomes for our communities and ourselves. People in Southeast Alaska know that better than most. Over the past quarter century, the region has been moving beyond boom-and-bust cycles of unsustainable resource extraction and export. Today, world-class, sustainably managed fisheries, tourism and recreation lead economic diversification that has replaced most old-growth logging.

The time is past due for the Forest Service to ride the change wave. In 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recognized that when he announced a transition away from logging old growth and roadless areas on the Tongass would help “communities stabilize and grow new jobs.” His Alaska Regional Forester agreed, saying that the Forest Service would transition “quickly.”

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Tongass rainforest is Alaska’s first line of climate change defense

tongass rainforest juneauGeos Institute released a new report demonstrating the importance of the Tongass rainforest in southeast Alaska as the State’s first line of climate change defense. Old-growth rainforests on the Tongass store more atmospheric carbon than any national forest in the country and therefore act as a carbon “sink.” The recent Paris climate change agreements called on nations to enhance and maintain forests as a carbon sink. Continued logging on the Tongass releases greenhouse gas emissions that will further place at risk Alaska’s climate and world-class wildlife and fisheries.

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Primary (unlogged) forests hold keys to lessening global warming impacts

Only about one-third of the world’s forests remain as intact primary forests with no roads or logging having taken place. Scientists have long recognized the unique values these forests provide including unmatched biodiversity, clean water, and, more recently, climate benefits. Geos Institute was part of an international team of scientists and conservation groups calling on countries, including the USA, to protect their dwindling primary forests as part of the historic climate change agreements negotiated this December in Paris.

Read the full article.

 tongass rainforest dds  tropical rainforest LamingtonNP Australia dds
Tongass rainforest – primary temperate rainforests on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska sequester (absorb) the equivalent of about 8% of the annual US greenhouse gas emissions. No other forest in the nation sequesters and stores more carbon. Geos Institute works to preserve these rainforests for their climate and biodiversity benefits. Tropical rainforest, Australia – tropical rainforests are a global carbon “sink,” absorbing atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis and storing it in long-lived trees, dense foliage, and soils. Geos Institute is a member of the steering committee of “IntAct,” an international effort to protect the world’s primary forests. Photo credit: Dominick DellaSala

Over 200 scientists request that the Administration accelerate transition out of old-growth logging

Seven of the nation’s top scientific societies and 200 distinguished climate and natural resource scientists are urging the USDA and the Obama Administration to speed up its transition out of old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest. The large trees, productive soils, and dense foliage on the Tongass store ten times more carbon than any other national forest. When these rainforests are logged, most of the stored carbon is released as carbon dioxide pollution, contributing to global warming in Alaska and worldwide.

According to Dominick DellaSala, “Quickly transitioning the Tongass rainforest out of clearcutting old-growth forests would bring certainty to the timber industry and secure the legacy of rainforest benefits for the American people.

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