As the only professional forester in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) loves trees and understands the importance of good management for healthy forests.
Recently he introduced the Trillion Trees Act, legislation that would plant 1 trillion trees globally by 2050 and incentivize the use of wood products as carbon sequestration devices.
The Trillion Trees Act is based on a July 2019 Swiss report featured by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science that concluded planting 1 trillion trees across the world could sequester 205 gigatonnes of carbon. That’s roughly the equivalent of two-thirds of all manmade carbon since the Industrial Revolution.
The bill has three parts:
- Plant more trees in urban areas and on marginal agriculture land domestically while offering technical support and assistance for other countries to maximize forest growth internationally and reverse deforestation.
- Grow more wood in existing forests and make them more resilient to insects, diseases and catastrophic wildfires.
- Store more carbon by incentivizing innovative building practices with a sustainable building tax credit.
“Trees are the ultimate carbon sequestration device,” Westerman said. “Every day, countless billions of plant cells are pulling carbon from the atmosphere and permanently storing it in wood. That’s why this legislation is so important. We’re taking proven science and turning it into practical solutions. Not only are we setting an ambitious goal of planting 1 trillion new trees by 2050, but we’re also reinvesting resources into managing forests and using wood products. Since wood continues storing carbon long after the tree is cut down and turned into furniture or building materials, there is no limit to how much carbon we can sequester. We have an obligation to conserve our resources and make them available to future generations, and I challenge anyone to find a better climate solution than taking care of our forests.”
As the Federal Forest Resource Coalition has noted, the Trillion Trees Act represents an opportunity to accelerate the restoration and reforestation of our Federal lands, which have suffered from decades of inadequate management. Most of the reforestation needs on our National Forests are the result of large fires, many of which were made more severe because we’ve failed to manage fire prone forests throughout the west. On many Eastern National Forests, mature forest stands are reaching maturity. Better management can store more carbon – both in the standing trees and in long-lasting wood products.