Protecting Forests to Mitigate Climate Change

If protected, Massachusetts forests can help to prevent runaway climate change and protect resilient ecosystems that are able to adapt to change. Cutting down forests — especially burning them for energy — worsens climate change, degrades ecosystems, destroys cultural sites, and threatens public health.
Intact Forests Fight Climate Change
• Forests absorb and store carbon that would otherwise fuel climate change. The 2015 Paris climate agreement calls for nations to protect forests as carbon “sinks.”
• Unlogged forests provide vital environmental services, including filtering the air, preventing soil erosion, providing clean and reliable water supplies, and buffering storms.
• Undisturbed forest ecosystems provide critical habitat for diverse species of plants and wildlife, and are naturally resistant to climate disruption.

Logging Worsens Climate Change
• Logging of forests releases greenhouse gases, immediately emitting 40-60 percent of carbon in trees and soil, which takes many decades to re-absorb.
• Logging makes forests more vulnerable to climate change by fragmenting wildlife habitats, increasing invasive species and disease infestation, and weakening their resistance to drought.
• Logging destroys precious Native American sacred sites within forests.
Wood Energy Fuels Climate Change – 80% of logged forests are burned
• Burning trees for energy immediately releases all carbon in trees and half of the carbon stored in soil, as well as particulates and toxic gases.
• Wood fuels do not come from “sustainably” logged forests. There is no scientific definition of “sustainable” forestry or assurance that logged forests will even be allowed to grow back due to climate chaos and many other factors.
• Wood chip and pellet processing is energy intensive, releasing immense amounts of Greenhouse Gases that fuel climate change.
• Burning wood commercially for energy emits 150% more carbon dioxide than
burning coal, and more than twice as much nitrogen oxide, soot, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic matter than coal, per megawatt hour of energy. (, “Trees, Trash & Toxics,” pp. 16-17)
• Wood fuel energy is bad for public health because of particulate and toxic gas emissions. Research has determined that “there is no safe amount of particulates” emitted from the smoke stacks of pellet burners. World Health Organization
 The American Lung Association opposes grants for pellet burners in schools promoted by the DOER SAPHIRE program. Solar-powered air source heat pumps and mini splits offer a cleaner, healthier option for commercial and residential applications for heating and cooling.

At this time the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is ignoring the benefits of forests in mitigating climate change. Mass. protects only a tiny fraction of forests from deforestation, looks the other way at DCR’s destructive logging practices, and incentivizes climate-disrupting wood fuels for energy, bowing to wood fuel lobbyists. Public objections to these policies have been ignored for years, and there has been no accountability for emissions released into the atmosphere from either Commonwealth or regional logging programs, or for the destination of a majority of our forests (80%) to be processed/manufactured and burned. This is the opposite of what is needed to address our climate emergency! “It’s an all hands on deck moment for the climate!” (Michael Kellett, RESTORE the North Woods)

Proposed Legislative Remedies
1. Amend the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act to set strong greenhouse gas
targets for 2030 and 2040, require carbon accounting for all logging operations since 1990, and end all new logging projects on public land. (Pacheco – SD1359)
2. Revise Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon accounting to include emissions from logging and wood fuel manufacturing and burning.
3. Oppose Stephen Kulik’s Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, which would worsen climate change, increase toxic pollution, and force taxpayers to subsidize increased logging and wood fuel burning for the profit of special interests.
4. Support federal feasibility studies for proposed Quabbin and Berkshire National Parks to ensure permanent protection, provide public education and recreation programs, and diversify and strengthen local economies.

Michael Kellett, Executive Director RESTORE the North Woods

RESTORE, PO Box 1099, Concord, MA 01742 • (978) 392-0404

Beth Adams, Co-founder, Director
Massachusetts Forest Rescue Campaign (413) 522-7505