In the United States, approximately 766 million acres, or one third of our country, is forestland. These forests not only provide commodities—wood for lumber, plywood, and paper—but also provide tremendous environmental benefits, including clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation. With National Forests located in 40 states, they are also easily accessible for most Americans to visit and explore.
In January, President Trump affirmed America’s commitment to promoting conservation efforts by announcing that the United States would join the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees Initiative to plant, grow, conserve, and restore trees on American soil and around the world. The goal of the One Trillion Trees initiative is to protect and restore one trillion trees by 2030.
This week, President Trump furthered his leadership on the One Trillion Trees Initiative by signing an Executive Order “Establishing the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council.” This executive order promotes healthy and resilient forests and rangelands by actively managing them through partnerships with States, tribes, communities, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. In addition, this executive order creates the United States One Trillion Trees Interagency Council, which will be responsible for coordinating the Federal Government’s interactions with this important global initiative. Additionally, the Council will identify and address potential statutory and regulatory limitations that may prevent or limit our interactions.
Managing, conserving, and regenerating our Nation’s forests is necessary to maintaining a healthy environment and a robust economy. Healthy forests and woodlands serve as habitats for our wildlife and support our air and water quality. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 180 million people in more than 68,000 communities rely on our Nation’s forested watersheds to capture and filter their drinking water. Additionally, recreational visits to our National Forests promote economic growth, contributing $10.3 billion to the United States economy, and support approximately 140,000 full- and part-time jobs.
This executive order is yet another action that President Trump has taken to enhance our conservation efforts and improve our environment. In just three years, President Trump has delivered two monumental pieces of legislation for our public lands: the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act. The latter is the most significant investment in our national parks since Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency.
During the first three years of the Trump Administration, the Department of the Interior alone has planted more than 58 million trees and is on track to plant an additional 22 million trees by the end of 2020. The President has called for the passage of the REPLANT Act (S. 4357) to help address the Forest Service’s reforestation backlog and continued annual reforestation needs, and also the introduction of the Trillion Trees Act (H.R. 5859), a bipartisan bill to plant one trillion trees globally and encourage the use of wood products for carbon sequestration. Under President Trump’s leadership, our air quality is at its cleanest ever in recorded history, access to safe drinking water is improving, and our wildlife is thriving. In fact, the Trump Administration has recovered more endangered and threatened species than any previous administration in their first term.
This week’s announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s commitment to protecting, preserving, and regenerating one of our most important assets: trees. As Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, I look forward to serving on the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council and working to conserve and grow our Nation’s forestlands.