MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin celebrated Earth Day with Governor Tony Evers signing an Executive Order pledging to protect and restore Wisconsin’s forestland.
According to a release, the pledge helps the forestland by conserving 125,000 acres and planting 75 million trees by 2030 as part of the U.S. Chapter of the Global Trillion Trees Initiative.
When fully realized, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the pledge will result in 28.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide stored over the next 50 years. That is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by six million passenger vehicles for a year.
Officials say the Executive Order directs the DNR to implement the pledge in partnership with public, private, and non-governmental partners on behalf of Wisconsin.
17 million acres of forestland cover nearly half the state and are vital to our social, ecological, and economic well-being so DNR staff say both the wide variety of forest-based activities enjoyed by the public and the products made from our forests are crucial to the state and local economies.
Forest products contribute $24.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy, and forestry is the largest employer in seven counties across the state.
In addition to safeguarding water resources, providing wildlife habitat, and supporting rural economies, the DNR says maintaining healthy forests is also essential to mitigating climate change.
In order to retain forest cover, the state says they plan to use the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund to continue acquiring forest land for state and non-governmental entities.
DNR staff say urban tree planting combined with tree maintenance can increase urban forest carbon storage and deliver additional carbon mitigation benefits through energy savings.
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of trees will be provided by Wisconsin’s reforestation program, which supplied local landowners with more than 1.6 billion high-quality, native seedlings for reforestation purposes since 1911.
The DNR says it will continue its efforts to manage existing forestland, ensure that current forests stay healthy, and improve regeneration opportunities.