U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today issued the following statement on news that the U.S. Green Building Council will create new opportunities to advance environmentally responsible forest management and help reduce the use of illegally-sourced wood through their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.
“The U.S. Green Building Council’s announcement today creates new pathways for responsibly managed wood products to receive recognition for their contributions to sustainability in the built environment, the restoration of the nation’s forests, and the creation of new employment opportunities in rural America. Nationwide, forests provide more than 900,000 jobs, creating almost $240 billion in economic output every year. Today, our forest resources and the communities that surround them are at risk due to severe wildfires, outbreaks of insects and disease, drought and invasive species, all exacerbated by a changing climate. USDA remains committed to increasing the pace and scale of restoration of the Nation’s forests in order to sustain their health, resiliency and productivity amid these trends. USDA also recognizes the challenges of curtailing illegal logging activities globally and works with a variety of partners to improve enforcement and monitoring of illegal logging.”
“A healthy forest products industry is integral to the resiliency of our forests and of our communities and that is why USDA has worked with stakeholders to forge new initiatives that increase sustainable uses of wood and accelerate the research, development and commercialization of innovative forest products. In 2011, Secretary Vilsack and I issued a directive to all Forest Service units, calling for increased use of locally milled timber in all new agency buildings and facilities.”
“More recently, through the White House Rural Council, we convened the symposium Building with Wood: Jobs and the Environment, and recognized the winners of the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition designed to encourage innovation.
“Research has demonstrated that wood products from responsibly managed forests outperform other building materials in measures of greenhouse gas intensity, air and water pollution and other environmental impacts. Responsibly-sourced forest products also provide income for private landowners that keeps land forested and supports needed investments in forest management to provide clean water, wildlife habitat, and other values American’s depend upon.”
For more information on U.S. Forest Service work to conserve the nation’s forests and support rural economies visit http://www.fs.fed.us/.