Danna Smith
Danna Smith

The southeastern United States is losing trees fast. Between 2000 and 2012, trees in the region were cut up to four times faster than in South American rainforests.

Smith: “In the southeastern U.S., what’s driving the loss of forest cover is industrial-scale logging.”

That’s Danna Smith of the Dogwood Alliance, a nonprofit organization. She says that rainforests are often clear-cut for agriculture, whereas trees cut down in the Southeast are usually replanted.

But it can take a sapling decades to grow large enough to absorb and store as much carbon as the tree it replaced.

Smith: “Absolutely, older standing trees have more benefit for the climate.”

And, after the saplings grow big enough, they too get harvested.

Smith: “What we’re really dealing with across a large landscape is a highly degraded ecosystem of forests that just get continuously logged over and over again.”

Smith says people need to rethink how they use wood, to better balance human use with forest preservation.

Smith: “Forest protection as a climate solution is not just relegated to the tropics. It also is very critical that we address that issue in our own backyard.”

Reporting credit: Christina Hoover Moorehead/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image credit: “U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency” TEDxAsheville video screenshot.

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Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...