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FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Global Deforestation

America’s forests are a key climate solution, absorbing carbon dioxide equivalent to more than 10% of U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions. Federal lands are home to many of the nation’s mature and old-growth forests, which serve as critical carbon sinks, cherished landscapes, and unique habitats. However, these magnificent ecosystems are threatened by the climate impacts that are already here, with intensifying wildfires demanding urgent action to protect our forests and the economies that depend on them. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides historic wildfire resilience funding and calls for prioritizing the restoration of old-growth forests.

Building on this directive and the Administration’s commitment to climate-smart forest stewardship, today’s Executive Order will:

Safeguard mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, as part of a science-based approach to reduce wildfire risk.
Strengthen reforestation partnerships across the country to support local economies and ensure we retain forest ecosystems and sustainable supplies of forest products for years to come.
Combat global deforestation to deliver on key COP26 commitments.
Enlist nature to address the climate crisis with comprehensive efforts to deploy nature-based solutions that reduce emissions and build resilience.

Across these efforts, the Administration will leverage historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the FY 2022 budget, and work in partnership with states, Tribal Nations, communities, industry, NGOs, labor, scientists, and private landowners, to strengthen our forests while creating good-paying jobs.

Today’s Executive Order will advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s climate goals and economic agenda by: [selected text]
1) Reducing Wildfire Risk
DOI and USDA will conduct the first-ever inventory of mature and old-growth forests on federal lands. After completing the inventory, DOI and USDA will develop new policies, with robust opportunity for public comment, to institutionalize climate-smart management and conservation strategies that address the threats facing mature and old-growth forests on federal lands. DOI and USDA will partner with other federal agencies, states, Tribal Nations, and any interested private landowners to better coordinate conservation and wildfire risk reduction efforts—leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other sources.
2) Strengthening Forests for Thriving Local Economies

The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and the Interior will work with state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, as well as the private sector, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, and the scientific community, to advance forest-related economic opportunities at the local and regional levels.

The Administration will develop agency-specific 2030 targets for reforestation, including the use of partnerships to advance these goals beyond federal lands to enable our future forests to be more resilient to climate change and wildfire, while also supporting healthy forest economies for years to come.

USDA and DOI will address a longstanding seed shortfall by developing a plan, in partnership with states, Tribes, and the private sector, to boost federal cone and seed collection and seedling nursery capacity.

3) Combatting Global Deforestation

The Department of State will lead development of a report on whole-of-government approaches to reduce or eliminate U.S. purchases of agricultural commodities grown on illegally or recently deforested lands, including through public-private partnerships to incentivize sustainable sourcing.
The Department of State will coordinate with other agencies to assess the broader use of foreign assistance, trade tools, finance, and international partnerships to combat deforestation and support sustainable forest management around the world, with special attention to the critical role played by Indigenous peoples and local communities and landholders in conserving and restoring forests.
4) Enlisting Nature in the Fight Against Climate Change
The White House Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and Office of Domestic Climate Policy will work with agencies to develop a report to the National Climate Task Force on key opportunities for greater deployment of nature-based solutions—everything from restoring marshes, to planting shade trees, to promoting drought-resistant crops.

The Office of Management and Budget will issue valuation guidance to help agencies better account for services provided by ecosystems and the environment (such as pollinators supporting our crops, or forests cleaning our air and water). In support, OSTP and the Department of Commerce will continue leading an interagency initiative to improve and update baseline information on the economic value of our existing natural assets and new nature-based solutions.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program will develop the first-ever assessment of the condition of nature within the United States. The assessment will also allow us to look ahead at how nature might change in the future and identify opportunities for investments in nature to help achieve our climate, health, environmental justice, and economic goals.

Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/04/22/fact-sheet-president-biden-signs-executive-order-to-strengthen-americas-forests-boost-wildfire-resilience-and-combat-global-deforestation/

Executive Order on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/04/22/executive-order-on-strengthening-the-nations-forests-communities-and-local-economies/

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