In the latest move the president’s administration has made, he intends to leave one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests open to be ravaged by logging companies.
Said stripping of the rainforest’s protection was revealed in a notice posted by the Forest Service today, October 28.
Commonly referred to as ‘America’s climate forest’ by environmentalists, the forest will have its 16.7 million acres opened up to logging and development work. The protective measures have been in place for almost 20 yeas but now, under Trump, such conservation will be foregone for manmade construction and profit.
Situated in the south-eastern region of Alaska, the Tongass National Forest covers over 25,000 square miles of land and is America’s largest national forest.
The vulnerable area, that has seen roads banned from construction since the 2001 Roadless Rule and, for 19 years, ‘prohibits timber harvest and road construction/reconstruction with limited exceptions within designated inventoried roadless areas’ will no longer be preserved in this way.
From October 29, companies will legally be allowed to build roads through the wild area and cut across 9.3 million acres of trees and natural habitat.
According to the Independent, the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forestry Service, said that the reckless decision is ‘jeopardizing the subsistence culture of Indigenous communities, the forest’s role in fighting the climate crisis, and already imperiled wildlife.’
Speaking of the devastating impact this will have, Andrea Feniger, Sierra Club Alaska Chapter’s Director said:
Preserving the Tongass is a matter of survival. A standing healthy forest is absolutely essential to the subsistence survival of Indigenous peoples. It’s also essential for mitigating the climate crisis that threatens us all. We will continue to fight for the Tongass and those who depend on it. We will challenge the lifting of restrictions against logging in the forest’s roadless areas at every turn.
Temperate forests are different from regular ones because they boast the densest accumulation of above ground carbon on the planet.
Unsurprisingly, Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski praised Trump’s move, citing a ‘one-size-fits-all roadless rule is an unnecessary layer of paralysing regulation that should never have been applied to Alaska.’
‘It will allow Alaskans to create needed opportunities for a sustainable year-round economy, while still being good stewards of our lands and waters.’
In August, Trump angered activists when he opened up protected and previously untouched parts of Alaska for fracking purposes, in the hope of extracting oil, but at the potential risk to wildlife such as the already endangered polar bear.
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