WASHINGTON, DC | American Forests announced a first-of-its-kind $20 million keystone agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to help the agency organize and rapidly scale climate-adapted reforestation across millions of burned and degraded acres over the next five years.
Powered by the historic REPLANT Act, the comprehensive partnership will enable American Forests to aid the Forest Service to quickly assess, prioritize and plan for reforestation needs, fill gaps in climate-resilient restoration planning and bolster reforestation planning by expanding nursery production, growing the forestry workforce and increasing seed collection capabilities.
Activities under the partnership will include helping the Forest Service develop a climate-informed reforestation action plan for each region. The partners will also collaborate to engage and expand workforce and partnership opportunities with tribes and states, as well as rural and disadvantaged communities.
Enacted as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in late 2021, the REPLANT Act removed a cap on Forest Service funding for reforestation, allowing the agency to now access nearly ten times more in reforestation investments annually. American Forests helped catalyze the REPLANT Act, working in collaboration with bipartisan members of Congress.
“Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, USDA Forest Service and partners like American Forests are poised to make historic investments in reforestation as forests across the nation face extended droughts, catastrophic fires, pests and disease, all accelerated by climate change,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The scale of this challenge means that we can’t do it alone, and this agreement is another step in making our forests – and communities – healthier, safer and more resilient.”
With this additional capacity, the Forest Service is now positioned to help address an estimated backlog of at least four million acres of National Forest System land in need of reforestation – a number that has jumped due to recent increases in severe wildfire.
“Reforestation is an important investment for the future and resiliency of forests across the country,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “This agreement with American Forests will help the agency reduce the backlog of reforestation needs to support wildfire and disaster recovery, identify future reforestation needs, and improve our ability to monitor the impact and outcomes of this important work.”
Together, the Forest Service and American Forests will use landscape-level planning and climate-informed restoration practices to advance goals identified in the agency’s National Forest System Reforestation Strategy (PDF, 7 MB) and Secretary Vilsack’s June 2022 Order, which directed the Forest Service to restore and create climate-resilient forests.
Across the U.S., a growing backlog of National Forest System lands need reforestation, driven in significant part by the escalating impact of climate change on U.S. forests. Large, high-severity wildfires are driving 81 percent of reforestation need on national forests, outpacing the agency’s capacity to restore these lands following such fires. Prior to the REPLANT Act, the Forest Service had only been able to address six percent of the reforestation backlog each year.
Building from the Forest Service’s National Reforestation Strategy, American Forests and the agency will develop 10-year REPLANT Act implementation plans designed to bring about tailored reforestation solutions for each region of the National Forest System. This new agreement provides a strategic launch point for implementing these solutions.
“American Forests is proud to lead on REPLANT Act implementation through this comprehensive partnership with the Forest Service,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests. “Together, we will accelerate climate-smart reforestation across national forests, helping to restore the health of these priceless public lands.”
ABOUT AMERICAN FORESTS: American Forests is the first national nonprofit conservation organization created in the U.S. Since its founding in 1875, the organization has been the pathfinders for the forest conservation movement. Its mission is to create healthy and resilient forests, from cities to wilderness, that deliver essential benefits for climate, people, water and wildlife. The organization advances its mission through forestry, innovation, place-based partnerships to plant and restore forests and movement building.
ABOUT USDA FOREST SERVICE: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service manages more than 192 million acres of public land as national forests and grasslands. Grounded in world-class science and technology - and rooted in communities - the Forest Service connects people to nature and each other. As a federal agency in service to the American people, the Forest Service cares for shared natural resources in ways that promote lasting economic, ecological, and social vitality. In doing this, the agency supports nature in sustaining life. To learn more about the Forest Service, visit Home | US Forest Service (usda.gov)