Tongass Rainforest

Protecting ~2.5 million Acres of At-Risk Tongass Rainforest

In 2008, Geos Institute was part of a team of scientists from the Society for Conservation Biology that asked the newly minted Obama Administration to protect the Tongass rainforest as a carbon and wildlife refuge. At our mutual urging, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack mentioned in his speech at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (2010) the importance of the Tongass in sequestering up to 8 percent of the nation’s forest carbon annually. Secretary Vilsack continued his interest in the Tongass by announcing in July 2013 that a transition out of old-growth logging would take place, but not for another 10–15 years while old-growth logging would serve as an economic “bridge” to previously cut young growth not yet available for re-harvest.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service has put forth controversial old-growth timber sales that routinely get litigated by conservation groups and local mills are starving for wood. The Forest Legacies program has been working with diverse participants on a project designed to accelerate the transition out of old-growth logging by solving for economic uncertainties created by transition.

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.

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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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