Tongass Forest Regains Its Protection Under Biden Administration

Tongass Forest
Tongass Forest

The Tongass Forest in Alaska, the world’s biggest inviolated temperate rainforest and sometimes referred to as “America’s Amazon,” has had its protections reinstated thanks to the Biden administration.

On January 25th, the Department of Agriculture announced new safeguards that would ensure restoration of the longstanding roadless protection to the 9.37 million acres of areas that are roadless getting supported by ecological, cultural values, and economy in Southeastern Alaska. The 2020 Alaska Roadless Rule allowed for road construction and timber harvest in the forest.

Newly Found National Treasure Tongass Forest In U.S 

Over half of the forest’s acreage had been protected since the first roadless regulation was enacted in 2001, in the waning days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, but under President Trump, that protection was revoked in 2020. The five Alaska Native communities all shared the same stance of opposition to the reversal.

In a press release, Tom Vilsack Agriculture Secretary defended the safeguards, saying they were essential for protecting biodiversity, resolving the climate problem, and giving the opinions of indigenous peoples greater weight.

Vilsack argued that the Tongass Forest was essential to preserving biodiversity and combating climate change since it is to date the largest discovered national forest in the United States and the greatest intact temperate rainforest ever discovered. Recognizing the significance of fishing and tourism to the economy of Southeast Alaska, the restoration of these roadless protections abides by the views of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast Alaska.

The Department of Agriculture deems the forest’s overall area of 16.7 million acres important for proceeding with carbon sequestration alongside carbon storage as an aid to prevent climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions from the United States can be somewhat counteracted by bodies such as the Tongass forest, which stores large amounts of gas.

The United States Forest Service notes that the area’s abundance of salmon, eagles, and bears makes it a popular destination for tourists. According to a statement by the USDA, the forest is significant not only for the environment but also for the culture of Alaska’s indigenous people. Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida peoples all call this forest their ancestral home.