Scientists Ask President Obama to Save Tongass Rainforest

For immediate release on January 20, 2015

Contact: Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist and President; 541.482.4459 x302; 541.621.7223 (cell); This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ashland, Oregon- Seven of the nation’s top scientific societies have joined over 200 distinguished climate and natural resource scientists to urge the Obama Administration to speed up its transition out of old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in July 2013 that a transition out of old-growth logging and into logging second growth (forests originally logged in the 1950s that have since reforested) would commence over time. The Forest Service is amending the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan, with a draft due this August. Unfortunately, the agency continues to support controversial old-growth sales at levels not seen since the early 1990s, despite independent analyses showing second growth will soon be available to replace old growth timber.

The scientific societies calling for an end to old-growth logging on the Tongass National Forest (the only national forest still clearcutting old growth) include the American Fisheries Society, American Ornithologists Union, American Society of Mammalogists, Ecological Society of America, Pacific Seabird Group, Society for Conservation Biology, and The Wildlife Society.

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Increased Logging on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Western Oregon Would Rival Carbon Dioxide Pollution from Cars and Power Plants

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2014

Contacts: Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., 541-482-4459 x302; 541-621-7223 (cell); Olga Krankina, Ph.D., 541-737-1780

Ashland, Oregon – A new analysis from Dr. Olga Krankina, a member of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), demonstrates how increases in logging levels on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in western Oregon proposed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (S. 2734) would lead to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to expanding the Boardman coal-fired power plant in Oregon by 50%, or adding another half million cars to Oregon’s roads, or burning over 6.3 million barrels of oil annually.

Senator Wyden’s legislation covers over 2 million acres of western Oregon’s federal forestlands (often called the “O&C” lands) administered by BLM. If S.2734 is enacted into law, logging would increase by 75-140% above current levels. The O&C lands are currently managed under the region’s Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which was adopted in 1994. An indirect effect of the NWFP’s logging reductions has been a gradual accumulation of atmospheric carbon by the region’s forests. At present, two-thirds of BLM forestland in the Pacific Northwest are protected, older “high-biomass forests,” a term used by scientists to describe forests that sequester (absorb) and store massive amounts of atmospheric carbon.

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Phase Out of Tongass Old-Growth Logging Can Begin Now If the Forest Service Acts Swiftly

For Immediate Release on August 25, 2014

Contacts: Catherine Mater, Mater Ltd. (541-753-7335); Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D., Geos Institute (541-482-4459 x 302, 541-621-7223); Nathaniel Lawrence, Natural Resources Defense Council  (360-534-9900); Jim Furnish, Retired Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor (240-271-1650)

A recently released study of second growth availability on the Tongass rainforest questions the assumptions made by the Forest Service that they need to log old-growth rainforests for ten or more years until second growth is ready. The Forest Service announced in May that it was transitioning timber sales from old growth to second growth but expected another 10 to 15 years of old growth logging that has proven controversial. This new study shows that transition can begin immediately and finish up in no more than 5 years, shifting logging to previously logged and roaded second growth areas outside of sensitive resource lands.

A 2014 study update commissioned by the Ashland-Oregon based Geos Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council used recent Forest Service timber data to conclusively show that the agency has immediate access to supplies of second growth similar to trees already being logged on private lands in southeast Alaska. A preliminary study conducted by Oregon-based Mater Ltd. released in 2013 used prior Forest Service and Tongass Futures Roundtable estimates to determine the number of second growth acres already pre-commercially thinned that could be harvested at 55-years of age to meet market demand. Recent research financed by The Nature Conservancy determined the desired log characteristics for a dedicated small log processing operation on Prince of Wales Island could be obtained from 55-year old hemlock and spruce stands. The 55-year harvest level, currently practiced by the southeast Alaska private timber industry, contrasts with the Forest Service’s practice of waiting until second growth is 90 years old before harvesting it. With funding from Geos and NRDC, and assistance from the Tongass National Forest (for GIS data), Mater Ltd. and Oregon-based Conservation Biology Institute updated the initial report with the region’s first map of accessible second growth using GIS data supplied by the Tongass National Forest.

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New Global Analysis Reveals Extreme Vulnerability of Primary Forests

Contact: Stephen Sautner, Wildlife Conservation Society, 1-718-220-3682; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Authors say just 22 percent of primary forests are located in protected areas and that less than 5 percent of original primary forest is left on Earth
  • Half the world’s remaining primary forests located in U.S., Canada, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Analysis provides clear policy recommendations to safeguard primary forests into the future
  • Full Report

New York  – A team of conservationists has published a new global analysis and map showing the extremely precarious state of the world’s primary forests. The analysis is featured in a paper appearing in the early online edition of the journal Conservation Letters.

The analysis reveals that only 5 percent of the world’s pre-agricultural primary forest cover is now found in protected areas.

Primary forests – largely ignored by policy makers and under increasing land use threats – are forests where there are no visible indications of human activities, especially industrial-scale land use, and ecological processes have not been significantly disrupted. These forests are home to an extraordinary richness of biodiversity; up to 57 percent of all tropical forest species are dependent on primary forest habitat and the ecological processes they provide for their survival.

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New Studies Show Severe Fires are Natural and Ecologically Beneficial to Sierra Nevada Forests

August 8, 2014

Contacts:
Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D.; Geos Institute , 541-482-4459 x 302; 541-621-7223 (cell)
William Baker, Ph.D., University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY; 970-317-8162 

Ashland, OR - Two recently published scientific studies add to a growing body of research on the ecological importance of forest fires, even severe ones, to the integrity of fire-dependent forests in the western U.S, particularly California’s Sierra region.

One study, published in the Natural Areas Journal, documented the ecological importance of forest fires in regenerating unique habitat for numerous plants and wildlife in the Sierra, including rare and threatened ones. The other published in Ecosphere compared historical records of forest fires to today’s fires and concluded that today’s fires in the Sierra are burning in size and intensity similar to the way fires once burned. 

According to Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist of the Ashland-Oregon based Geos Institute and lead author of  “Complex early seral forests of the Sierra Nevada: What are they and how can they be managed for ecological integrity?,” “Post-fire landscapes are often falsely portrayed as “moonscapes,” but they actually have some of the highest levels of plant and wildlife diversity of any Sierra forest type with levels comparable to what we see in the region’s more appreciated old-growth forests.” 

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