FCWG Policy Platform - Goal Four
America’s forests and forest products are a proven carbon sequestration and storage “technology” to provide the negative emissions we need to slow climate change. Today, U.S. forests and forest products annually sequester and store almost 15% of U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. New research suggests we could nearly double this natural carbon capture with the right actions. Best of all, this climate action through forests will build on the nearly 3 million jobs in America’s forest sector and bring broad co-benefits to our communities, from clean air and water to wildlife and outdoor recreation.
of U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are stored annually from forests and forest products
The Forest-Climate Working Group (FCWG) was founded in 2007 to provide a unified voice across the U.S. forest sector that can help America capture this remarkable opportunity. Our member organizations reflect the wide diversity of actors who help to conserve and manage America’s forests every single day: private landowners, forest products companies, state foresters and other government agencies, forestry, conservation and wildlife non-profits, carbon finance, and academic researchers.
This platform outlines how policymakers can help private forest owners and public land managers grow the powerful climate solutions in America’s forests and forest products while delivering other environmental and economic benefits. Our recommendations fall in four key areas:
Enhance Climate Data and Applied Science
- Fund the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis Program at a level that will provide robust forest carbon stocks data and provide direction for enhancing such data collection.
- Increase funding for research in:
- Advanced wood products for building construction and other forest products with significant embodied carbon potential.
- New products and life cycle analysis efforts that help increase understanding of the carbon benefits of wood use.
- Require land management research programs to align planning and investments in research that advances adaptation and resilience strategies for all forest ownerships, particularly to address wildfire, insects and disease.
- Increase federal investment in research, planning and monitoring critical for climate-informed restoration of public forest lands. Discretionary funding accounts include:
- Forest and Rangeland Research/Forest Inventory and Analysis.
- Land Management Planning, Inventory and Monitoring.
Deep Dive into the Policy Options
Strengthening the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program
The current Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) is the only source of forest data and analysis that is national in scope and consistent in measurements. The FIA program provides crucial information to federal and state forestry agencies, industry, academic, and conservation organizations on a wide range of forestry-related topics. From informing economic decisions that drive billions of dollars in economic value in the forest sector, to shaping wildfire protection strategies, to assessing urban tree canopies that essential for air quality and heat reduction, to identifying essential wildlife habitat, to analyzing actions of family forest owners, FIA provides the backbone data for all these important actions and more. Increasingly, FIA is relied on to provide data on the state of the Nation’s largest carbon sink—our forests—making it an essential component of decisions regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy. However, the demands for information on forest carbon are becoming more varied and at scales that are problematic to meet with the current design and capabilities of the program.
In particular, we recommend that the program expand data by accelerating data collection on the base grid to a 5-year remeasurement cycle nationwide, fully funded with federal appropriations. Strengthening remeasurement capabilities to a consistent nationwide cycle and standard will lower uncertainty levels in carbon estimation and better detect true differences in consequences of policy options.
But more data collected more frequently is not enough. Additional statistical research capacity is required to develop and employ the complex cutting-edge statistical imputation and estimation procedures required to produce the level of accuracy that clients are demanding today for smaller geographic areas. The additional analytical capacity will focus research efforts to improve best applications and integration of remote sensing technologies within the FIA program and develop technologies to reduce costs and make it easier to measure and monitor forest carbon (especially for forest inventories and verification). Using imagery from advanced technologies, especially remote sensing platforms would improve products for decision making by policy makers and managers and enable forest owner participation in carbon crediting opportunities.
The following legislative proposal is intended to provide direction to the agency as noted above. This, combined with increases in appropriations and additional administrative program direction, will help ensure FIA continues to meet the needs of the forest sector.
Proposed Legislative Outline:
We propose making the following changes to the existing FIA authorization. Changes are underlined and in italics.
16 U.S. Code § 1642. Investigations, experiments, tests, and other activities
(e) Forest inventory and analysis
(3) 5-year reports
Not more often than every 5 full fiscal years after June 23, 1998, the Secretary shall prepare, publish, and make available to the public a report, prepared in cooperation with State foresters, that—
(A) contains a description of each State inventory of forests and their resources, incorporating all sample plot measurements conducted during the 5 years covered by the report;
(B) displays and analyzes on a nationwide basis the results of the annual reports required by paragraph (2); and
(C) contains an analysis of forest health conditions and trends, including forest carbon, over the previous 2 decades, with an emphasis on such conditions and trends during the period subsequent to the immediately preceding report under this paragraph; and
(D) demonstrates the Agency’s efforts to measure a consistent historical series of field plots while using advanced technology to improve data and information and use advance geospatial technologies to improve area and volume estimates, especially for sub-State regions and smaller area estimates.
2018 Farm Bill Report Language: SEC. 8632. REMOTE SENSING TECHNOLOGIES.The Chief of the Forest Service shall— (1) continue to find efficiencies in the operations of the forest inventory and analysis program under section 3(e) of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 1642(e)) through the improved use and integration of advanced remote sensing technologies to provide estimates for state- and national-level inventories, where appropriate; and (2) partner with States and other interested stakeholders to carry out the program described in paragraph (1).