Forests as climate solutions

Forests — both managed and protected — have the potential to be powerful climate solutions. To keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to protect intact forests, restore degraded forests, plant new forests and improve the ways that working forests are managed, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate-smart forestry increases resiliency and stores more carbon

In working forests, climate-smart forestry increases ecological resilience in the face of climate change and sequesters and stores more carbon over time compared to conventional practices.

The net effect of climate-smart forestry is to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and enhance the health of forests and the multiple values they deliver.

Climate-smart forestry also addresses issues of equity and climate justice, improving community well-being and respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There is a spectrum of forest management from more to less climate smart, not an either-or distinction. Climate-smart forestry generally entails ongoing improvements over conventional practices without a fixed end point, as understanding of climate adaptation and forest dynamics evolves. It also involves achieving additional climate benefits beyond minimum regulatory requirements.

The Climate Smart Wood Group has developed a working definition of climate-smart forestry that can be downloaded below. We welcome your comments.

Climate-smart forestry is good for more than just the climate

Climate-smart forestry promotes a wide array of services and goods, including community well-being, local economic vitality, watershed protection, biodiversity, and production of wood and fiber.

The following practices are often associated with climate-smart forestry:

  • Reducing the average size of harvest openings, increasing live-tree retention, and lengthening harvest rotations;
  • Managing for a diversity of tree sizes, ages, and native species that make up multiple forest conditions and habitats;
  • Thinning unnaturally dense and fire-prone forest stands, and restoring the capacity to withstand natural disturbances using prescribed fire and other means;
  • Protecting water quality and aquatic habitat with ecologically appropriate buffers along streams and around wetlands;
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity impacts associated with forest management and the application of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides;
  • Protecting high conservation value forests, including but not limited to old growth, and protecting and restoring habitat for imperiled, threatened and endangered species;
  • Understanding, respecting, and upholding the rights and sovereignty of tribal nations and Indigenous peoples through early and ongoing consultation and co-stewardship of cultural and natural resources2; and
  • Ensuring communities most impacted by forestry activities have a meaningful voice in decision-making and benefit equitably from the outputs derived from them.

We are here to help

From goal-setting to procurement, the Climate Smart Wood Group can support your project. For more information contact the Climate Smart Wood Group at