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Forestry, Sustainability and Climate Roundup: February 2023

Forestry, Sustainability and Climate Roundup: February 2023

ResourceWise regularly monitors the most important news across the forest supply chain. Below, we’ve compiled some critical developments on climate, sustainability, wildfires and how they impact the commodity markets.

Forestry Industry News and Developments

Climate Change May Cut U.S. Forest Inventory by a Fifth This Century

A study led by a North Carolina State University researcher found that under more severe climate warming scenarios, the inventory of trees used for timber in the continental United States could decline by as much as 23% by 2100. The largest inventory losses would occur in two of the leading timber regions in the U.S., which are both in the South.

Researchers say their findings show modest impacts on forest product prices through the end of the century, but suggest bigger impacts in terms of storing carbon in U.S. forests. Two-thirds of U.S. forests are classified as timberlands.

Newhouse, Kilmer Lead Inquiry into Low Forest Service Timber Harvests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06) led a bipartisan letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore requesting information on the Forest Service’s low timber harvest in FY22 which was down 11% from FY19—the last pre-pandemic year of timber harvests. The West continues to face the risk of catastrophic wildfire because federal forests have been poorly managed for decades and are now overgrown with unnaturally dense timber stands that are vulnerable to insects, disease, and fire.

“Our federal forests are overstocked with trees, which increases wildfire risk and stress on the trees – making them more susceptible to insects and disease – so it is imperative the Forest Service work alongside Congress to actively manage our forests, remove overgrowth, and ensure sawmills and other forest sector infrastructure remain open,” wrote the lawmakers.

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Latest Stories on Forest and Wildfires

Wildfire Destruction in The Western US Has Doubled in Just 10 Years

It can be tempting to think that the recent wildfire disasters in communities across the West were unlucky, one-off events, but evidence is accumulating that points to a trend.

In a new study, we found a 246 percent increase in the number of homes and structures destroyed by wildfires in the contiguous Western US between the past two decades, 1999-2009 and 2010-2020.

This trend is strongly influenced by major fires in 2017, 2018 and 2020, including destructive fires in Paradise and Santa Rosa, California, and in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

In fact, in nearly every Western state, more homes and buildings were destroyed by wildfire over the past decade than the decade before, revealing increasing vulnerability to wildfire disasters. …

In our view, now more than ever, humanity needs to understand its role.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Preparedness, Reduce Risk for Catastrophic Wildfires

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today introduced the Wildfire Emergency Act, a bipartisan bill to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West.

This bill recognizes that the threat of wildfire is an emergency for the American West. Among the bill’s provisions include allowing the U.S. Forest Service to leverage private financing to accelerate forest restoration projects, creating a program to ensure critical facilities maintain power during wildfire disruptions, expanding a weatherization grant program to help low-income households fireproof their homes and establishing a prescribed fire-training center in the West.

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Sustainability Insights on Recycling and Emissions

The US is Bad at Recycling. Making Businesses Pay Could Boost the Rate to 75%

  • Recycling rates in US states could hit 75% if companies bear the costs, a study found.
  • The policy, known as extended producer responsibility, is successful in Canada and Europe.
  • EPR is gaining popularity in the US after four states passed laws to help reduce packaging waste.

The Canadian provinces and European countries [with better recycling rates than the US] have laws around [EPR]. Each program operates in different ways, but in general, EPR requires the companies that produce waste from bottles, packaging, and other materials to pay fees on those items. This, in turn, raises money for recycling and disposal. That revenue can also be used to expand recycling access to more people, improve infrastructure, and launch education campaigns.

California Climate Bill Would Make Companies Disclose Emissions

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers in California introduced a package of climate bills Monday aimed at holding corporations accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions.

The bills include legislation to require companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions to the public, ban the state’s public pension funds from investing in major fossil fuel companies, and create a group to analyze climate-caused financial risks for corporations. Similar efforts in prior sessions have failed to win enough support, but the Democratic lawmakers behind them say they’re hopeful for a different outcome this year.

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