Benefits of working forests celebrated at 2018 WFPA Annual Meeting

Working forests help address many of the state’s problems, from climate change and poor forest health to rampaging wildfires and struggling rural economies, attendees heard at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Washington Forest Protection Association this week in Olympia.

Tesla gets a lot of positive attention for the environmental impact of its electric cars, but in fact working forests and wood products in Washington are a net sequester of carbon, while Tesla facilities are a net emitter of carbon, said Indroneil Ganguly, assistant professor at University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, during a midday presentation. “If government gives incentives to Tesla, they should also give it to wood,” he said.

Ganguly added, “We are never a net (carbon) negative. We are always a net positive.”

Kevin Godbout, Director of Environmental Affairs for Weyerhaeuser, said his company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship through policy like the Forests & Fish Law are woven into his company’s mission. “This isn’t about our children but about our grandchildren,” he said.

In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Washington must replace hundreds of road culverts that block salmon passage. Forest owners have been leading in the state for two decades fixing culverts. Since 1999, forest owners have removed 7,300 fish passage barriers across 9.3 million acres, reopening 5,100 miles of fish habitat.

JD Marshall, Area Manager, NE Washington for Hancock Natural Resource Group, said forest landowners’ record on improving fish habitat speaks for itself. “We’re not arguing in the Supreme Court whether it should be done or not. We did it.”

This year’s WFPA annual meeting was a celebration of the 110th anniversary of WFPA, which was founded in 1908 when leaders in the timber business mailed letters to timberland owners inviting them to form a voluntary association to suppress forest fires. The group has grown over the last century and now represents private forest landowners growing and harvesting trees on about 4 million acres in Washington. Members are large and small companies, individuals and families who practice sustainable forestry in Washington’s private forests.

Read more about the year in Washington forestry in the 2018 WFPA Annual Report.