CALIFORNIA’S DRAFT FOREST CARBON PLAN – AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ACTION
The 2008 Climate Change Scoping Plan, which is the framework for implementing Assembly Bill 32, recognized the important role forests play in meeting the state’s greenhouse reduction goals, stating that actions should be taken to “preserve forest sequestration and encourage the use of forest biomass for sustainable energy generation.” The Forest Carbon Plan is being developed to provide additional impetus, detail, and direction as to how forests will play a role in California’s carbon future. The plan provides an array of strategies to promote healthy wildland and urban forests that protect and enhance forest carbon and the broader range of forest ecosystem services for all forests in California. More importantly, this plan supports an opportunity for increased action by the State of California and federal, tribal, local, and non-government partners to restore our forests to a healthy, resilient state.
The passage of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, marked a watershed moment in California’s history. By requiring in law a sharp reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, California set the stage for its transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future. Sierra Nevada forests play a critical role in achieving the state’s long-term goals, but action is needed to ensure our forests act as carbon sinks, and not carbon sources.
The overall forestry climate goal guiding the Forest Carbon Plan is to firmly establish California’s forests as a more reliable long-term carbon sink, as opposed to a carbon source.
For more detailed information and to comment on the Forest Carbon Plan, visit: http://www.sierranevada.ca.gov/our-region/healthy-forests/forest-carbon-plan
To learn more about other State of California draft plans currently available for public comment, visit: http://restorethesierra.org/engage/
HEALTHY FORESTS EQUAL STABLE CARBON STORAGE
- Sierra Nevada forests help regulate our climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in the soil, branches, and trunks of trees.
- However, many Sierra Nevada forests are overgrown. In these overgrown forests, trees have to compete for resources like water, nutrients, light, and space, which can slow their growth and limit their carbon absorption.
- In addition, these overgrown forests are more vulnerable to large, damaging wildfires, insect outbreaks, drought, and disease. Wildfires release stored carbon as plants and trees burn, and trees killed by large, damaging wildfires, insects, drought, and disease can become carbon emission sources as they decay, contributing to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions rather than offsetting them. Most importantly, dead trees stop removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- It will take decades for Sierra forests to regrow and replace the carbon storage that has been lost, and some areas burned by high-severity wildfire may grow back as shrubs rather than forest, storing less than ten percent of the carbon that healthy forests store.