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California Forest Legacy Program affects Clean Air and Water

The Pacific Forest Trust submitted an informative letter in response to the Climate Action Team's report. It included these interesting tidbits (among others):

The Forest Legacy Program is a forest conservation program that facilitates conservation through use of perpetual easements of productive forestlands that are threatened by development. Preventing the conversion of forestland to another use provides climate benefits, as it prevents or minimized the CO2 emissions that are associated with forestland loss.

Forest-based greenhosue gas emission reduction projects can achieve many local environmental benefits. The conservation, restoration and management of forestland to protect and increase carbon in our forests can foster the biodiversity and resiliency of our forests. These activities can also protect and enhance water quality and habitat for species.

Conversion of forestland is driven by a number of factors:

  • population pressure
  • rising real estate vaues
  • aging demograhics of landowners
  • relative costs of regulation
  • increasing global competition in the timber industry

By creating cost savings or providing financial incentives such as new carbon income streams for forest landowners, we can help overcome the trends that are behind forestland conversion and loss of forest climate benefits.

California has roughly 7.4 million acres of privately owned forestland with 4.2 million acres classified as industrial. Forests are not only found on remote mountains, the urban forest is also a valuable conservation system. By filtering pollutants, storing water, providing cooling shade, and reducing urban heat traps, urban trees are valuable economically and for quality of life.

Many cities are facing a significant loss of mature trees through storm damage, development and disease. Tree planting strategies are sponsored by national nonprofit groups, cities, and states who have evaluated the benefit of urban forests and found this natural system to be a cost effective, highly efficient antidote to greenhouse gases, heat and water quality, water conservation needs for our urban society.

You can help by finding your local environmental department and checking on the tree planting and care programs in your community.