• Forest Defense

One of the best tools we have here in Oregon to fight the climate crisis is the vast carbon sequestration potential of our forests. Unfortunately, logging currently accounts for almost a quarter of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, and mismanagement of our carbon-dense forests has released massive stores of carbon into the atmosphere.

The Forest Defense Team works to fight climate change by advocating for forest management practices that increase carbon sequestration and storage, decrease forestry sector carbon emissions, and improve community and ecosystem resilience in the face of the changing climate.

The Forest-Carbon Connection

Forests are vital in the fight against climate change. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in live and dead trees, on the forest floor, and in the soil.

Forests in western Oregon have the potential to store more carbon by acre than almost any other forest type in the world, but today this storage is severely reduced by intensive, industrial logging practices.

See here for our position on biomass energy, and why it is generally not a good climate solution.

Our Campaigns

When we adopt smart forest management practices, our forests protect us in turn. That’s why 350PDX’s Forest Defense Team is expanding our work to take on more in 2022, officially launching three sub-teams to take on new campaigns. Through these campaigns, we’ll keep fighting for a more resilient, equitable Oregon where forests deliver clean drinking water, lessen the impacts of the Climate Crisis, and provide shade for all in the city of Portland.

Protecting drinking water from industrial logging

Industrial logging and climate change has already caused water shortages in rural Oregon and the Coast Range. The recently signed Private Forest Accords was seriously lacking in protections for drinking water. The Accords established no-cut buffers around fish-bearing streams where forests are protected, but not around streams that provide water for towns. This is already leading to very real consequences for the health of our communities.

Our campaign:

350PDX volunteers are working with North Coast communities and the Forest Waters Coalition to elevate their voices in demanding that all Oregonians have clean, abundant drinking water.

Ensuring ODF fully implements the Climate Change and Carbon Plan

Oregon’s new Board of Forestry is showing promising signs that they will use Oregon’s forests as a tool to fight climate change, having passed the visionary Climate Change and Carbon Plan. Now, the Forest Defense Team is working to ensure that they fully implement the plan.

Our campaign:

We’re reviewing the Department of Forestry’s work plans to make sure they prioritize the Carbon Change and Climate Plan’s key aspects. We’re also meeting with Board of Forestry members to learn about the legal, political, regulatory, and financial landscape surrounding forestry in our state. It’s behind-the-scenes work that has lots of potential to protect our climate!

Fighting for shade equity in Portland

Portland neighborhoods that were redlined in the past still face deep systematic injustices today. These neighborhoods now lack street trees, adequate infrastructure, and other forms of support, leading to some of the hottest average temperatures in those areas. Increasing tree canopy is a key strategy for cooling these “urban heat islands,” improving livability and making communities more climate resilient. But there are currently barriers to planting and maintaining street trees in Portland – a key one being that local residents must bear the costs. While the City acknowledges that lower income residents bear more financial burden in increasing Portland’s tree canopy, they are not seeking a solution.

Our campaign:

The Forest Defense Team is helping launch a campaign to shift the cost of maintaining Portland’s tree canopy from residents to the City of Portland. That way, Portland can start planting life-saving street trees in neighborhoods with urban heat islands and create a more equitable tree canopy throughout the city.

We’ve made strides in this campaign!

In March 2022, a coalition of Portland organizations including 350PDX sent a letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler and our City Commissioners – urging them to prioritize shade equity. The letter highlights the urgency of this issue, with the climate crisis driving more extreme heat events. Read the letter here:

Download (PDF, 2.14MB)

Thanks to all who came to our Heat Week Climate Resiliency Ride and Action Night!

We hosted a Pedalpalooze ride during Heat Week, where we rode bikes from Lents to Laurelhurst, discussed the impacts of extreme heat on our neighborhoods, and commemorated the lives lost in the 2021 heat dome. We also took action for equitable street tree access, sending postcards calling on Commissioner Rubio to champion a shade equity plan and ensure street trees are growing strong across our city.

News coverage on Heat Week and the Resiliency Ride:

During the Resiliency Ride, we recorded temperature readings.

These maps show how heat indexes can differ depending on what neighborhood your in — largely because of differences in shade trees:

Download (PDF, 9.13MB)

Join our team

We are a loose group of ten to thirty people with diverse backgrounds, with various levels of engagement. We appreciate every new volunteer regardless of their background or knowledge. Nevertheless, we would love to find more volunteers with strong insights in political strategy on a regional level or communications or organizational skills.

We meet biweekly; due to the pandemic our meetings take place via Zoom. When it’s safe we’ll gladly return to in person meetings.

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