Politics Biden Earth Day action targets protecting old-growth forests from...

Biden Earth Day action targets protecting old-growth forests from wildfires, climate change

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will mark Earth Day in Seattle on Friday by announcing new steps to make the nation’s forests more resilient against the threat of wildfires and climate change.

Biden will sign an executive order that seeks to protect some of the nation’s largest and more mature trees, strengthen reforestation efforts and fight global deforestation.

Specially, the order will call for the government to undertake the first-ever inventory of mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, said senior administration officials who described the actions on the condition of anonymity.

Scientists say mature and old-growth forests remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere, yet many older forests are threatened by wildfires and climate change.

Data from the inventory, which must be completed within a year, will be used to analyze threats facing American forests. The inventory will serve as the foundation for new policies on management and conservation strategies, the officials said.

Biden has set a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of US lands and waters by 2030. The order he will sign Friday will require federal agencies to set targets for reforestation and prepare reports on how the government can stop global deforestation.

A major driver of global deforestation is forest clearing to produce agricultural commodities like beef, soy, and palm oil. Biden’s order will task the State Department with looking for ways the government can reduce or eliminate purchases of agricultural commodities grown on illegally or recently deforested lands.

That will not only protect forests and human rights abroad but also provide a level playing field for responsible agricultural producers at home, the officials said.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

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