CAL FIRE Climate Change Message from the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection

The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board) is the policy and regulatory arm of the Department. It consists of nine members appointed by the Governor. The current policies of the Board can be found online at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/CDFBOFDB/board/board_policies.asp. Most significantly the Board 2007 Policy Statement contains seven criteria, each with a set of objectives, indices, and strategies against which success can be measured. Of the seven goals, five address climate change directly or indirectly. See http://www.fire.ca.gov/CDFBOFDB/PDFS/PolicyProgram_050107.pdf

By law, the Board must maintain a vigorous, resilient and healthy forest land base in California, which supports the ecological needs of the forest ecosystem and its human dependencies. The Board recognizes the importance of the sequestration potential for forests and their benefits in achieving GHG emission reduction targets. At the same time the Board acknowledges that these needs must be considered in conjunction with the many other ecological and human benefits that forests provide and for which the Board has responsibility in California.

The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) directs greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions be reduced by 2020 to the State's 1990 levels. As part of this directive, a Scoping Plan was devised that will serve as the State's roadmap for achieving these emissions reductions, with broad goals and defined measures for 10 industry sectors. This includes the Forest Sector.

The Forest Sector is unique in that it is the only sector that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and holds (sequesters) it over the long-term. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by trees through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in trunks, branches, foliage, roots and soils. Decay and wildfire ultimately release the absorbed carbon under the natural cycle of forest growth, mortality and regeneration. The Forest Sector represents complex biological systems that are inherently highly variable and difficult to quantify and predict. Moreover, forests themselves will be influenced by climate change in complex and uncertain ways.

Under the Scoping Plan strategy, the Forest Sector must achieve a "No Net Loss" target. As such, the Sector must achieve reductions in CO2 equivalent to the current statewide forest carbon budget. The Board has been tasked by the Air Resources Board (ARB) to implement approaches to reach this target. To do so, the Board plans to use a combination of regulatory, statutory and incentive-based approaches. See the Board's AB 32 Report to ARB on this topic at http://www.fire.ca.gov/CDFBOFDB/PDFS/AB32Report_09408.pdf.

The Report outlines a plan that has two goals: 1) to maintain a net carbon sink of 5mmt CO2 in the forest sector, and 2) to reduce the uncertainty surrounding maintenance of the sink. It also lays out principles to guide policy choices and to formulate effective strategies to manage forest carbon. See http://www.fire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/resource_mgt_EPRP_Climate/board_report.php for more information about the principles.

ARB, CalEPA and the Natural Resources Agency sent a letter of support for the Board's proposal. The Board looks forward to working with these agencies, the Forest Sector, and stakeholders in addressing the varied and complex impacts of climate change on California's forest and rangelands.

The contact person for Board climate change issues is George Gentry, Executive Officer to the Board. George can be reached at george.gentry@fire.ca.gov or (916) 653 8031.

  • AB 32 report
  • board website

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