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Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition is a unique state and federal partnership working with the people and resources in the West.
The programs we administer assist family forest-owners, rural and state fire organizations, and community forestry groups. The success of these programs help to improve forest health, encourage land conservation, and stimulate community economic recovery.
The health and vitality of forests in the western United States constantly influence—and are being influenced by—climate due to the important function that forests perform in the carbon dioxide cycle in the atmosphere. The maturity, health, wildfire intervals and stewardship of forest resources determine whether western forests effectively store or release greenhouse gasses (GHG) that contribute to climate change.
Western forests play a very beneficial role in climate change because via photosynthesis, trees continually absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC) position statement outlines central climate change policy themes for the forestry sector which are further described by a set of 10 principles and concludes with key approaches to develop forest climate change policies at the regional, state and more local levels across the west.
Western forests – from the Douglas-fir and redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest – to the mixed-conifer and pine forests of the Intermountain, Columbia Basin, and Sierra Nevada Mountain regions – to the riparian forests of the Great Plains – are some of the most valuable and productive forests in the world.
Western forests are also acting as net sinks for carbon; annually removing a net 74.0 million metric tons (60.3 to 88.0 at the 95% confidence level; estimates not including AK and HI) in all non-soil pools – trees, standing dead and down wood, understory, forest floor, and wood products. In any given year, forests in any state, including Alaska, may be a net source of carbon due to large-scale disturbances such as wildfire. Given their ability to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, maintaining the area and performance of western forests as carbon sinks will not only be key to western regional efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon, but to any national and international efforts as well.
While western forests need to be an important part of the solution to reducing atmospheric carbon they are also vulnerable to the risks of climate change.
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