U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Responds to New Report on Wildfire Smoke Mitigation through Forest Management

Greenville, S.C. – September 21, 2023The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) acknowledges the significant findings of the California-focused report released by the California Council on Science & Technology (CCST) and Blue Forest, which sheds light on the vital role of forest management in mitigating the harmful impacts of wildfire smoke on human health and healthcare systems. 

The Endowment’s commitment to advancing forest management is exemplified through its funding of this research, made possible by a grant to CCST and Blue Forest via the Innovative Finance for National Forests (IFNF) program, co-managed by the Endowment and the National Partnership Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. By annually contributing to projects like this one, the Endowment continues to fulfill its mission of safeguarding and enhancing our nation’s working forests for the well-being of all.

Titled The Human Health Benefits of Improving Forest Health in California: Investigating the Links Between Forest Management, Wildfire Smoke, and the Health Sector, this report provides valuable insights, including:

  • Wildfire Smoke and Health Costs: The report underscores that the health sector is experiencing real impacts from wildfire smoke, affecting people and health sector organizations’ workforces, operations, and ability to provide services. Yet the costs are largely unquantified, despite indications that these costs are conservatively in the billions of dollars. The report calls for more research to work with the health sector to understand the true costs of wildfire smoke.
  • Benefits of Forest Management: Increasing forest management in many circumstances reduces the risk of wildfires and lessens population exposure to hazardous smoke, which could also result in improved health outcomes for communities.
  • Collaboration for Resilient Forests: The report calls for enhanced coordination among federal, state, and local agencies, along with healthcare partners, to encourage healthier forests and more resilient communities in the face of inevitable smoke events.

“The report’s findings emphasize the critical role of sustainable forest management in safeguarding both our environment and our health,” said Pete Madden, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “The Endowment is dedicated to collaborative efforts nationwide that encourage active management to restore and maintain healthy forests for all the environmental, economic, and health benefits they provide. This research by CCST and Blue Forest is further evidence of the urgent need to educate landowners and the public about the importance of healthy, well-managed forests.” 

The Endowment stands aligned with CCST and Blue Forest on the report’s key messages. This project is one in a portfolio of many that emphasizes the Endowment’s core mission to advance systematic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests through: 

  • Market Development: Developing new and enhancing existing markets for forest products will help drive active forest management at the scale needed to address pressing challenges from wildfire and climate change. The Endowment is committed to seeking innovative approaches to create these markets, ensuring the economic viability of forests while protecting their ecological value.
  • Sustaining Forest Owners: Forest owners rely on revenue from their lands to support essential management practices that ensure forest health. Consumer markets play a pivotal role in generating this income.
  • Fostering Collaboration: The Endowment actively promotes public-private partnerships to leverage market forces in support of forest health and resilience, benefiting both the environment and communities.

“We commend the work of CCST and Blue Forest in highlighting the intersection of forest management, wildfire smoke, and human health, and we look forward to engaging in further discussions and collaborative efforts to address these critical challenges,” added Madden.

About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities:
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities. To learn more about the Endowment, please visit our website at www.usendowment.org

About CCST:
The California Council on Science and Technology is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established via the California State Legislature in 1988. CCST responds to the Governor, the Legislature, and other State entities who request independent assessment of public policy issues affecting the State of California relating to science and technology. CCST engages leading experts in science and technology to advise state policymakers—ensuring that California policy is strengthened and informed by scientific knowledge, research, and innovation.

About Blue Forest:
Blue Forest is an innovative climate finance non-profit that addresses pressing environmental challenges by developing ecological investment opportunities. As part of that work, Blue Forest works on research and development to demonstrate the environmental, economic, social, and cultural outcomes of ecosystem restoration interventions, motivates new and traditional sources of funding to implement restoration projects, and finances long-term commitments to increase the pace and scale of restoration. In partnership with the US Forest Service and the World Resources Institute, a particular area of focus is forest restoration in the western U.S. to address the catastrophic wildfire challenge.

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US Endowment image by Mac Stone