The Biden administration on Monday outlined plans to plant one billion trees as part of efforts to address an extensive reforestation backlog.
The effort, spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, will build on existing reforestation efforts using funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law and the bipartisan Repairing Existing Public Land by Adding Necessary Trees (REPLANT) Act.
Without the two laws, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, the department would only have been able to address about 6 percent of the reforestation backlog.
“Forests are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” Vilsack said in a statement. “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 from catastrophic wildfire, historic drought, disease outbreaks and pest infestation.”
“Our reforestation efforts on national forests only increase through strong partnerships with other federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments, communities and organizations,” added US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “We recognize that successfully increasing reforestation on national forests is dependent on these strong partnerships.”
The Forest Service has this year significantly expanded reforestation funds, putting about $100 million toward such efforts this year, at a time when unprecedented wildfires remain a looming threat.
The announcement is the latest of a number of forestry-related moves by the federal government.
In April, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting old-growth forests. In August, before Biden took office, the U.S. officially signed onto an effort to plant one trillion trees worldwide, with a goal of at least 855 million in the U.S. by 2030.
Republicans in particular have pushed planting more trees as an alternative to broader decarbonization efforts. Experts, however, say that planting enough trees to offset current carbon emissions is not feasible in terms of time or space.
Source: The Hill