Looking forward to 2021: Forest Policy

Written by Zander Evans

The Guild works collaboratively with land stewards and communities in the woods and we take the same collaborative approach to policy. We work with like-minded organizations and coalitions to advance policies that promote excellence in forest stewardship and protect forests. The Guild’s policy work is guided by our Policy Statements, which are drafted by the Membership and Policy Council and voted on by professional members. For example, our climate change policy statement guides our approach to engaging with the Forest and Climate Working Group (FCWG). The Guild has signed on to FCWG’s new policy platform along with nearly 50 other forestry and conservation organizations (including some led by Guild members). The platform focuses on goals that are central to the Guild including:

  • Maintain and Expand Forest Cover,
  • Improve Forest Practices for Carbon, Adaptation, and Resilience,
  • Advance Markets for Forest Carbon, Forest Products, and Skilled Labor, and
  • Enhance Climate Data and Applied Science.

The Guild will continue to participate in the FCWG because the details of these goals are important, and we can help ensure implementation plans align with Guild values.

The Guild has also joined a group of 34 like-minded organizations in support of the REPLANT Act (S. 4357 and H.R. 7843). This act was introduced over the summer and is rare, bi-partisan legislation to get more trees planted on federal land by removing the $30 million cap on The Reforestation Trust Fund, which is funded by tariffs on designated wood products. Due to the outdated $30 million cap, most of these revenues are unavailable for addressing ever-increasing critical reforestation needs. There are almost 8 million acres of national forests in need of reforestation, which includes 1.3 million acres of forests in need of immediate treatment. Through the REPLANT Act, the Forest Service will be able to treat these priority lands and plant or naturally regenerate more than 1.2 billion trees over the next decade alone, creating nearly 49,000 jobs.

The change of administration is an opportunity to take a fresh look at a wide range of policies. As the Biden administration begins to build its policy goals, the Guild and partners are advocating for several of policies to benefit forests. Guild staff contributed to a recent letter to the administration’s transition team members, calling for a high-profile, bipartisan commission to be convened to identify innovative policy solutions and elevate the need for improved forest and fire management as a top national priority.

At the state level, the Guild has provided expert input on a legislative effort to expand the practice of prescribed fire on private lands. We hope the resulting report to the legislature will motivate them to establish a gross negligence liability standard, establish a state training and certification system, and establish consistent ignitions permitting standards across the state. These changes will help ensure good fire returns to the forests that need it to remain healthy.

Whether at the state or national level, the Guild plays an important role speaking for the forest.