50 Organizations Call on President Biden to Protect Tongass National Forest and Carbon-rich Forests Under U.S. Climate Commitments

Biden administration expected to release international climate commitments ahead of Earth Day summit on April 22


Rebecca Bowe, Earthjustice, rbowe@earthjustice.org, (415) 217-2093

50 organizations representing national and local conservation groups, commercial fishing interests, and the outdoor recreation industry, submitted a letter last week to the Biden administration calling for carbon-dense forests, including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, to be specifically protected in the United States’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a plan for climate action that is integral to the international Paris climate agreement. The NDC, which is currently being drafted by Biden’s climate team, will be presented to the United Nations later this year.

The letter was submitted to White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, White House Deputy National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry on Tuesday, March 30.

“Article 5 of the Paris Agreement encourages Parties to conserve and enhance sinks and reservoirs, including forests,” the letter states. “The United States’ Nationally Determined Contribution cannot approach the needed commitment level without strong, science-based natural climate solutions that include protecting all of our remaining old and mature forests, like those in the Tongass. Including the Tongass in our NDC will send a signal to the world that the U.S. is ready to lead on protecting critical natural climate solutions.”

The letter calls on federal climate leaders to take bold, science-based action to preserve old-growth forests as a way to address climate change. This starts with fully restoring Roadless Rule protections in the Tongass National Forest, and includes immediately ending industrial logging of other mature and old-growth forests stands and trees, in consultation with Indigenous and other affected communities.

On the heels of the delivery of this letter, new data was released during a virtual press conference quantifying the importance of the Tongass to U.S. climate goals.

The Biden administration is expected to release the U.S. NDC on Earth Day in connection to Leaders Summit on Climate, scheduled for April 22 and 23.

Organizations who signed include the following: Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association * Alaska Rainforest Defenders * Sierra Club Alaska * Center for Biological Diversity * Defenders of Wildlife * Environment America * Wild Heritage * Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network * Environmental Caucus * Environmental Protection Information Center * 350 Eugene * Colorado Native Plant Society * Conservation Congress * Deer Creek Valley Natural Resources Conservation * Flathead-Lolo-Bitterroot Citizen Task Force * Friends of the Bitterroot * Friends of the Clearwater * Gallatin Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance * Great Old Broads for Wilderness * Greater Hells Canyon Council * High Country Conservation Advocates * KEEN, Inc. * Klamath Forest Alliance * Natural Resources Law * Quiet Use Coalition * Rocky Mountain Wild * San Juan Citizen’s Alliance * San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council * Sequoia ForestKeeper * Sierra Club * 14 Sunrise PDX * Sunrise Redding * The Conservation Alliance * The John Muir Project * Umpqua Watersheds * Upper Gila Watershed Alliance * Western Environmental Law Center * WildEarth Guardians * Wildlands Network * Sierra Club BC * Yaak Valley Forest Council * Yellowstone to Uintas Connection * Endangered Species Coalition * Cascadia Wildlands * Earthjustice

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