U.S. Will Plant One Billion Trees to Combat Climate Change
From Internetado@21:1/5 to All on Thu Aug 18 19:29:41 2022
_The Forest Service plans to tackle a reforestation backlog of 4.1
To help revitalize millions of acres of burned and damaged forests
across the American West, the U.S. Department of Agriculture aims to
plant more than one billion trees over the next decade.
Wildfires and other issues have devastated U.S. woodlands in recent
years, and Forest Service arborists can’t keep up with replanting lost
trees. They’ve reforested just six percent of land damaged by fires,
pests and extreme weather events, which has created a backlog of about
4.1 million acres.
Now, with more federal resources and funding via the REPLANT Act and
the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the USDA's Forest Service plans to
close the gap. To do so, the federal agency will need to hire more
people, source and collect more seeds and expand its nursery capacity
to grow four times more seedlings.
“Forests are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” says
Tom Vilsack, the U.S. agriculture secretary, in a statement announcing
the initiative this week. “Nurturing their natural regeneration and
planting in areas with the most need is critical to mitigating the
worst effects of climate change while also making those forests more
resilient to the threats they face.”
The federal government is focused on replanting trees on public lands
because forests filter and store water, sequester carbon, provide
Indigenous communities with food and timber, and contribute more than
$11 billion to the economy via outdoor recreation, to name a few
benefits. Left bare, areas once charred by wildfires are also more
susceptible to other potentially disastrous problems, such as
mudslides, flooding and landslides.
The Forest Service will scale up its reforestation efforts gradually.
Last year, staffers replanted roughly 60,000 acres of trees. Over the
next few years, that number will increase to about 400,000 acres per
year. Spending will also rise, from about $100 million spent on
reforestation this year to as much as $260 million.
“Achieving this vision of growing and nurturing resilient forests for tomorrow requires action today,” according to the Forest Service’s reforestation strategy plan.