Forest Land Conversion: Threats And Opportunities For Rural Western Communities


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Forest Land Conversion: Threats And Opportunities For Rural Western Communities

  1. 1. Forest Land Conversion: Threats and Opportunities for Rural Western Communities A presentation for: Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition November 15, 2007 Stevenson, Washington
  2. 2. Forest Land Conversion: Rate •About 1.5 million acres of private forests lost each year to development and other non-forest uses •More than 20 million additional forested acres conservatively lost by 2020 •Increased housing densities will impact more than 44.2 million forested acres by 2030
  3. 3. Forest Land Conversion: Western States •362 million acres of western forests (including Pacific Coast and Intermountain regions and Alaska) •67% privately owned •At risk areas include Estes Park CO, Jackson Hole WY, and Missoula MT •Most significant conversion losses over next 50 years will be in California and western Washington •20% of remaining California forests could be lost
  4. 4. California Forest Loss • CA lost roughly 40% of its forests between 1700 - 2005: +/- 20 million acres. • Today, 35,000 to 40,000 acres are lost each year. Increases projected.
  5. 5. Forest Loss and Urban Growth: Puget Sound • With new residents flocking to the Seattle metro area, its urban and suburban neighborhoods are rapidly expanding (salmon color is residential, urban) • Between 1988 and 2004, western Washington lost 17% of its non-federal forest land to other uses Source: Washington Department of Natural Resources, “The Future of Washington Forests,” 2007.
  6. 6. Forest Land Conversion: Outline •American Forests •Rates and Causes •Impacts •Federal Policy Developments •Opportunities to Engage
  7. 7. American Forests American Forests Cover 1/3 of US; 747 million acres; 430 million acres (58%) privately owned by close to 10 million private owners
  8. 8. Forest Land Conversion Forest Land Conversion Causes: Growth Pressures Causes: Growth •Population growth, creates •Increased demands for housing and commercial development, creates •Growing economic disparity between land values for timber vs. development, leads to •Conversion to non-forest uses
  9. 9. Forest Land Conversion: Forest Land Conversion: Other Causes Other Causes •Increased costs in timber industry •Global competition •Rapid turnover of corporate and family QuickTime™ and a Photo - JPEG decompressor are needed to see this picture. forest ownership •“Traditional” TIMOs giving way to REITs and real estate arbitrage
  10. 10. Forest Land Conversion: Forest Forest Land Conversion: A “Continuum of Loss” Land Conversion: A Outright conversion isof Loss Continuum easiest thetrack, but to forest loss is often caused by gradual erosion of forest values: •Forest management practices over time •Fragmentation of ownership •Parcel size: <10 acres not functional forest •Influence of neighboring non-forest uses
  11. 11. Forest Land Conversion: Forest Land Conversion: Impacts Impacts •Species biodiversity and habitat loss •Weakened forest health •Decreases in timber production and active forest management •Increased fire risk •Increased risks to life and property •View and recreational losses •Poorer water quality and hydrologic changes Source: “Forests on the Edge” (USFS, 2005)
  12. 12. Private forest acres watershed development
  13. 13. Private forest % to be impacted by housing development
  14. 14. Climate Impacts of Forest Land Loss • Forest loss is 2nd biggest source of global warming pollution • Keeping forests (in addition to reducing fossil fuel use) key to effective climate change strategy
  15. 15. Forest Loss is a Climate Change Challenge • Forests = 1/3 of Earth’s land base, but 1/2 lost between 1700-2000 • Forest change currently contributes 25% of global CO2 emissions, equivalent to emissions from 1.4 billion cars annually • Forest loss contributes 40 - 50% of current excess CO2 in atmosphere Source: World Resources Institute
  16. 16. But Forests also a Climate Opportunity! QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Forests absorb CO2 as they grow and store it as woody tissue for centuries/millennia -- if they aren’t converted to other uses
  17. 17. Forest Land Conversion: Federal Policy Developments Federal Policy Developments •Still primarily considered state and local issue (land use and zoning, “smart growth” initiatives) •However, conversion worries lie behind many forest land conservation programs
  18. 18. What’s Happening Now: Farm BillBill status 2007 Farm •Current Farm Bill expires in September •Diverse Forests in Farm Bill Coalition successful in promoting forests in bill •Number of Coalition priorities advanced •House version (H.R. 2419) passed July 27th •Senate version (S. Amend. 3500) stalled on Floor over amendments •If passed, Conference Committee next year (presidential year) •Bush Administration has threatened veto
  19. 19. 2007 Farm Bill: Forestry Forestry Title national policy Title statement Includes strong statements that conserving and managing working forest landscapes is a national priority, including for carbon sequestration (House version) and the protection of forests from threats, including development (Senate version)
  20. 20. 2007 Farm Bill: Forestry Title Community Forest and Open Community Forest and Open Space Space Conservation Program •Senate version only (no funding specified) •New USDA grant program; local gov’t and non-profits eligible; acquisitions in fee •Grants up to 50% of cost •Lands must be threatened by conversion or provide environmental or economic benefits to the community •Penalties for subsequent sale/development; but less secure than permanent easement?
  21. 21. Comprehensive Statewide 2007 Farm Bill: Forestry Title Forest Planning Comprehensive Statewide Forest Planning •Provides funds and technical assistance to states developing forest resources assessment and plans •Plans to include provisions to achieve national forest priorities •$10 million per year in funding in both House and Senate versions
  22. 22. 2007 Farm Bill: Conservation Environmental Quality Title Incentives Program Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) •Voluntary working lands program for farmers and ranchers would be expanded to include forest landowners •USDA contracts to implement productivity and environmental BMPs •Includes technical assistance, and •Covers up to 75% of costs for up to 3 years •House version creates new Regional Water Enhancement Program
  23. 23. 2007 Farm Bill: Conservation Healthy Forests Reserve Title Program Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP) •Both versions reauthorize program to restore private forests, protect under ESA, and enhance carbon sequestration •Three options presently: 10-year cost-share; 30- year easement; or permanent easement •Federal financial support increases as levels of protection increase •Senate version continues permanent easements; House version does not •$10 million per year in House version; no specific appropriation in Senate version
  24. 24. 2007 Farm Bill: Conservation Conservation Reserve Title Program; State Tech Comm Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) •Extends program to provide technical and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water and environmental issues on their property •House version extends program to private forest landowners State Technical Committees •Adds private forest landowner representation
  25. 25. Interior: Forest Legacy Program Interior: Forest Legacy •Matching funds to states and landowners Program preserve forests from conversion (NGOs still can’t hold CEs) •$62.7 in House (up $5.3 million from 07) •41 states have requested $192 million for 82 forest conservation projects
  26. 26. Opportunities to Engage Opportunities to Engage •Urge your U.S. Senators to pass the Farm Bill now •Federal climate change bills: •Forests part of the solution…and problem •Forest landowners benefit from cap and trade •“Adaptation” funds for conservation •Regional: Western Climate Initiative •Support Interior Department funding for Forest Legacy Program •Focus also on state and local land use •Support Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition
  27. 27. Thank You Thank you! Kevin Raymond, Washington State Director Tel 206.547.9249