WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, highlighted the important role the forestry sector plays in addressing climate change and how Congress can build on the sector’s successes by encouraging proper management of private and public forests.
During a hearing on the forestry sector and climate change, Boozman said that the wood products industries have “a great story to tell when it comes to the numerous benefits healthy, working forests provide.”
“The good news is, we have an abundance of the world’s greatest carbon sequestration machines – trees,” Boozman said.
Boozman called the lifecycle of planting trees, managing forests, harvesting timber and delivering this?commodity to a vibrant wood products industry a “win-win for everyone.” He noted the numerous positive impacts of healthy well-managed forests provide, including minimizing damage from pests, disease and catastrophic wildfires; supporting a vibrant wood products industry and the rural communities which rely on it for their livelihood; and environmentally advantageous byproducts of cleaner air and water in addition to carbon sequestration.
“The common denominator in achieving these ‘wins’ is management. Providing forestry experts the right tools yields us healthy forests, healthy markets and countless benefits,” Boozman said.
Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox, who also serves as president of the National Association of State Foresters, testified before the committee and echoed Boozman’s comments about management as the key to a healthy forest’s ability to help address climate change.
“When we harvest and thin our forests it helps the remaining trees to grow. Young trees store more carbon than older trees. All trees have a life cycle just like people, and the older the tree, the less carbon it is storing. Young, vigorous, healthy forests store more carbon than any other kind of forest,” Fox said.
Boozman asked Jessica Orrego, the director of forestry at the American Carbon Registry, a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, how the federal government can help encourage more participation in voluntary carbon markets by private forest land owners.
“There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. The carbon market is operating already and it is growing rapidly, so we recommend that any role that the government plays will work to complement the carbon market and the existing frameworks,” Orrego said.
Boozman urged his colleagues to consider strategies to promote voluntary participation in combatting climate change, while avoiding policies that take forest land out of production or deter sound forest management practices. He specifically pointed to the tax increases President Joseph Biden has proposed, noting the detrimental impact these tax code changes could have on private forest land owners.
“We must ensure foresters and landowners are able to operate with certainty, predictability and transparency. We must avoid taking actions that may disrupt this successful and sustainable market cycle. This is true with the administration’s tax proposal on capital gains and stepped-up basis, which may have significant implications for the agriculture and forestry industries by frustrating, rather than facilitating, market opportunities for land owners, timber harvests and the wood product industries,” Boozman said.
When Boozman asked the witnesses for their thoughts on how the administration’s proposed tax code changes could impact family foresters, Fox said that it will make it harder to continue across generations.
“A raise in capital gains tax without stepped-up basis is frankly devastating to family forest land owners,” Fox said.