White House Rural Council and USDA Support Building with Wood

Today the White House Rural Council (the Council) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a symposium on wood as part of the Council's work to enhance economic opportunity in rural America.

The American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), co-leaders of the Forest Climate Working Group, attended "Building with Wood: Jobs and the Environment," where more than 100 attendees discussed the environmental benefits of building with wood and opportunities to advance the use of wood in construction.

Members of the Forest Climate Working Group today, along with many others in the forest conservation community, also supported wood use in building construction in a community letter addressed to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and White House Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chairman Michael Boots.

Promoting the use of forest products from responsibly-managed forests in the United States creates a number of significant benefits consistent with President Obama's Climate Action Plan, including strategies to mitigate carbon emissions, and ensuring forests and forest-based communities are prepared in the face of a changing climate.

By making the case for more wood in buildings, the USDA is calling attention to the value of sustainably grown forest products in storing carbon throughout the building's lifecycle, which helps maintain America's working forests and supports rural economies. The 22 million family forest owners who own more forestland than the federal government need healthy markets to maintain healthy forests. By increasing demand for sustainably harvested wood, families can reinvest resources back into their land.

"The American Forest Foundation commends Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for his leadership on this forest conservation issue. Along with carbon storage, working forests also provide other countless benefits, including clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and recreation," said symposium attendee Rita Hite, executive vice president at AFF. "The Council's and USDA's leadership will advance sustainable forest management and conservation on the ground," added Hite.

"Our mission is to conserve land for people, and having strong forest products markets will help to advance that mission by protecting jobs in rural America and providing resources for forest management," said Jad Daley, climate conservation director at The Trust for Public Land. "Healthy, well-managed forests also help slow climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide-U.S. forests capture almost 13 percent of U.S. emissions at current levels.

Today's symposium also included Secretary Vilsack's announcement of a partnership to train architects, engineers and builders about the benefits of advanced wood building materials as well as plans for a prize competition to design and build high-rise wood demonstration projects.