Center for American Progress

RELEASE: U.S. Forest Service Can Lead the Way in Goal To Protect 30 Percent of U.S. Lands
Press Release

RELEASE: U.S. Forest Service Can Lead the Way in Goal To Protect 30 Percent of U.S. Lands

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Forest Service has an important role to play in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and water by 2030, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

The report argues that the 193 million acres in the National Forest System present an enormous opportunity for President Joe Biden to deliver on his conservation and climate commitments. These lands have conservation values that rival those of national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other prized conservation lands. But many of them don’t receive adequate protection to guarantee a future for these values.

The report calls for a comprehensive climate policy that:

  • Identifies and protects old forests, intact watersheds, and wildlife corridors
  • Creates a framework for measuring the various benefits that National Forest System lands provide to society—including clean air, clean water, carbon storage, and wildlife habitat—in order to protect and restore what’s most important to society
  • Provides guidance for co-managing forests with tribes and partnering with rural communities to make better, more equitable investments using Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding

“The Forest Service has a chance to meet the moment and play an important role in achieving the goals of America the Beautiful,” said Ryan Richards, a senior policy analyst at CAP and author of the report. “The values these lands provide—carbon storage, clean water, and wildlife habitat—are key to tackling the biodiversity and climate crises and need a secure future.”

The report notes that more than 6 billion tons of carbon are stored on unprotected lands in the National Forest System. More than 400 threatened and endangered species also rely on these lands as habitat. Rivers and streams on national forest lands provide drinking water for 1 in 5 Americans and are strongholds for species such as salmon that rely on clean water.

Read the report: “A Plan for the U.S. Forest Service To Lead on the America the Beautiful Initiative” by Ryan Richards

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at shananel@americanprogress.org.