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Modern, sustainable forest management leads to climate-smart outcomes in working forests.

Outcome 5

Mitigation of Severe Wildfire Risks

Extremes in heat and drought, coupled with over-stocked forests, have exacerbated wildfire. The average area burned annually by high-severity wildfire has increased eight-fold in the West since 1985 (Parks and Abatzoglou 2020). But sustainable forest management practices, such as fuel reduction treatments, fuel breaks, and forest road maintenance, help mitigate the risk of severe wildfire.

How do we know this is true?

The US Annual GHG Inventory reports annual CO2e and non-CO2e emissions from forest fires (see EPA 2023, Table 6-11). In addition, FIA’s State Fact Sheets report annual acres burned in wildfire.

Ensuring severe wildfire Risk Mitigation:

Sustainable Forest Certification systems have specific criteria to understand forest risks to wildfire and take steps to minimize these risks, including working within the community to raise community awareness and coordination.

  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification – Performance Measure 10.1 On the forests they own or manage, Certified Organizations shall limit susceptibility to undesirable impacts of wildfire, promote healthy and resilient forest conditions through management techniques, actions and/or policies, and support restoration of forests following wildfire damage. Performance Measure 10.2 Certified Organizations shall individually and/or through cooperative efforts involving government agencies, SFI Implementation Committees, Project Learning Tree, or other partners, engage in efforts to raise awareness of and take action towards benefits of fire management and minimization of undesirable impacts of wildfire.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification – See Principle 10.9.1. Guidance: In forest* types that are fire-adapted or at risk of wildfire, the Organization identifies and applies site-specific fuels management practices, based on: 1) natural fire regimes; 2) risk of wildfire; 3) potential economic losses; 4) public safety; and 5) applicable laws* and regulations.

Ensuring Forest Management is Climate Smart

In the U.S., assurances are in place to verify that our forests are sustainably managed and climate smart through a mosaic of overlapping and mutually reinforcing local, state, and federal environmental laws and regulations, state-approved forestry best management practices (BMPs), and third-party forest management and wood fiber sourcing certification programs.

NAFO’s Environmental Benefits Report

Did you know that private working forests are one of the most environmentally valuable natural resources in the U.S. but one of the least understood? To learn more about the positive impacts of sustainable forest management on carbon, water, and wildlife, check out this comprehensive report from the National Alliance of Forest Owners.