President Biden is expected to sign an executive order on Earth Day allowing for the inventorying of old-growth and mature forests across the country, the Washington Post reports. The Friday order will allow the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to use that information to draft policies protecting forests from any threats the agencies identify. It’s unclear what definition the administration will be using for mature and old-growth forests, as the terms tend to vary from ecosystem to ecosystem. For example, the old-growth forest found in Muir Woods in California has trees as old as 1,200 years, while some of the old-growth forests in Minnesota have trees much younger—albeit still centuries old.
What the executive order doesn’t do outright is ban logging. However, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management do have jurisdiction over timber sales from federal forests and could thus limit the practice. The Washington Post adds that the order will extend to limiting foreign deforestation efforts and include an inventory of additional natural resources meant to calculate their value. While the Washington Post does mention that the executive order will promote “economic development in regions with major timber industries,” it’s anyone’s guess what that looks like and whether it includes conservation efforts in addition to boosting communities reliant on logging without harming forests in the process.
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