Statement of the Hon. Jared Golden on Sustainable Forestry’s Role in Climate Solutions
Washington, September 29, 2021
In Maine, we have been home to a strong logging and forest products industry for hundreds of years. It’s part of our identity as a state and thousands of Mainers still make their living in the woods or in mills making things out of forest products.
The industry has faced tough times in recent decades for a variety of reasons: disastrous trade policies, demand slumps, and much more. But loggers and other forest products workers — many of them small businesses — love what they do and they’ve kept at it.
That’s important, because small businesses in the forest products industry and the sustainable forestry they practice are primed to play an important role in the growth of renewable energy and combatting climate change in the years to come. It’s a great opportunity for small businesses in rural, heavily forested states like Maine and for the communities they call home.
America’s forests and woodlands are vast. These natural resources cover about a third of the country, and nearly 90 percent of my state. These forests house diverse wildlife, improve air and water quality, sequester carbon dioxide, and provide critical resources for the U.S. and countries worldwide.
Sustainable forestry seeks to manage forests to support the natural forest resources and ecosystem services we need now and in the future. These practices include protecting forests from wildfire, pests, and diseases and preserving forests. I am proud to say my home state of Maine has many landowners adopting these practices.
Sustainable forestry can also help combat the impact of climate change, which has already begun to hurt forest health across the country.
Unpredictable temperature changes, drought, fire, and invasive pests pose a fundamental threat to our beloved woodlands. Fortunately, sustainable forestry can maintain and restore carbon sequestration in forests, helping to fight climate change and keep our forests intact.
The people doing this sustainable forestry are often small businesses. They are logging operations, forest products companies, biomass facilities, and much more. They are the ones who are creating jobs and keeping their local economies moving while keeping our forests healthy and fighting climate change.
And as we’re seeing, the market for the products that sustainable forestry produces is full of potential: woody biomass, such as waste from logging and milling, can be used in industrial applications to produce steam and electricity, reducing the use of fossil fuels. Cross-laminated timber is being used in buildings in the U.S. and across the world. And innovative new forest products are hitting the market every day.
Keeping our forests healthy can help promote sustainability, address climate change, and ensure small businesses and their workers in rural areas share in the economic benefits.
As Congress looks to fight climate change and bolster American small businesses with the bipartisan infrastructure bill and other legislation, we must support industries that help on both fronts.
Today, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how federal programs and policies can support sustainable forestry and better meet the needs of small firms in this vital sector.