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Climate Smart Forestry: A Trend to Watch?

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Guest Article By: Anne Clawson, Cascade Advisory

We all know that forests can be good for the climate all on their own. In the U.S., forests sequestered the equivalent of 11% percent of total U.S. industrial emissions in 2021, according to EPA data. About fifty percent of the weight of dry wood is carbon, which means that trees and long-lived wood products store carbon. But what if there were a way to make forests better for the climate? Making a good thing better is, essentially, the goal of climate smart forestry (CSF): incorporating practices or achieving outcomes that increase the climate benefits of forests. 

Yet, the term “climate smart forestry” remains vague in meaning and use. Is it for decarbonizing the building sector? Reducing wildfire? Improving commercial forest operations? Managing public lands? Stakeholders of all kinds are monitoring the evolution of the term, and many are trying to shape the way we define it in one direction or another. This is because stakeholders know if and when a consensus is reached, the way we define the term could impact every corner of the forest and wood products sector. This article provides an introductory orientation to the concept of climate smart forestry, including how key stakeholder groups are engaging with it.

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