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Groups: OR Forestry Climate Plan Signals Commitment to Curb Climate Change

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Thursday, December 2, 2021   

SALEM, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Forestry recently approved its first Climate Change and Carbon Plan, to embrace climate-smart forest management in the state.

The Board of Forestry unanimously approved the plan last month.

Danny Norlander, forest carbon and forest health policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the plan has three legs: adaptation, mitigation and a social dimension, focusing on communities and local economies.

He explained adaptation is looking at how forests can adapt to the changing environment, using different tree species, for instance, and mitigation is using forests to store carbon.

"The third leg there is the social dimensions," Norlander emphasized. "We really need to just support natural resource-dependent economies in rural Oregon that have been experiencing a lot of impacts from wildfires and the heat wave that we had last summer."

He added the plan also gets into urban and community forestry, to make sure no communities get left behind.

Grace Brahler, Oregon climate action plan and policy manager for Beyond Toxics, said the plan incorporates strategies and goals of a bill passed this year, Senate Concurrent Resolution 17, which calls attention to the disproportionate impact of climate change on BIPOC, immigrant, rural and low-income communities.

She pointed out it also emphasizes the need to invest in a regenerative economy, and to have a fair and participatory process.

"Incorporating SCR 17 principles into Forest Practices will result in cleaner air and water, good jobs with family sustaining wages and a range of workforce services and skills training, and more climate resilient forests and communities across Oregon," Brahler outlined.

Peter Hayes, a 6th generation experimental family forest business owner in the Oregon coast range who is working towards a better model of forestry, noted almost half of Oregon is covered in forests, and historically a lot of focus for forests has been on producing lumber.

"Our superpower is the capacity of our land -- in particular, our forests -- to catch and hold carbon," Hayes contended. "And I think the plan marks a shift to acknowledging that we need to have a range of priorities."

Disclosure: Beyond Toxics contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Environmental Justice, Social Justice, and Toxics. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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