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Protect the Tongass National Forest
The Tongass rainforest in Alaska is under attack!
Help us protect over 9 million acres of forest.
Defend climate and communities.
Wanda Culp, WECAN Tongass Regional Coordinator, and Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International Executive Director looking out at the Tongass National Forest- Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid
The aftermath of destructive logging practices in the Tongass National Forest - Photo via WECAN International/Emily Arasim
The Trump administration unveiled a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that will devastate long-standing protections against logging and road-building in the Tongass National Forest, a vital old-growth temperate rainforest in Southeast Alaska that exists within the traditional territories of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples.
The Tongass National Forest has been called "America's Climate Forest" as it is the single most important national forest for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation in the U.S. A collective of Alaska Native activists, Alaska-based and national organizations, including the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network, released a statement of opposition in response to the DEIS, finalized weeks after revelations that President Trump exerted pressure to allow new clear-cuts in the Tongass.
The DEIS was open for public comment last year and thousands joined us in submitting a comment calling for the protection of over 9 million acres of ancient forest, the defense of the climate, and standing with Indigenous land defenders and all forest protectors by submitting a comment demanding the administration keep the federal 2001 Roadless Rule intact and current protections in place for national forests in Alaska.
The Roadless Rule is an important measure that protects upwards of 58 million acres of national forest lands from further development, virtually preventing old-growth logging; roadbuilding; and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing. The rule continues to have tremendous public support, with a 2019 poll finding three-fourths of the general public in support of the Roadless Rule.
As parts of Alaska are warming at roughly twice the rate of the rest of the planet, maintaining an intact Tongass ecosystem is critical to providing climate change solutions for Alaska and international climate efforts. Additionally, keeping the Tongass intact will also protect unique habitat for hundreds of species, like salmon, bears, and deer, all of which, in turn, support local economies based on fishing, hunting, and tourism. Currently, tourism and fishing account for 25 percent of jobs in Southeast Alaska while logging only provides 1 percent.
The WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation and allies understand the gravity of the issue and are united in calling for support of the current Roadless Rule and its protection of the Tongass, which is also vital for Indigenous peoples' survival in the region. Currently, we are awaiting the final decision on the Tongass.
If the federal government is successful in opening up the Tongass to more catastrophic, industrial-scale logging, they will not only destroy the forest and further harm our global climate, but they will actively contribute to the ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples whose identities, cultures, and livelihoods are integral to the forest.
The WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass Delegation, including WECAN Tongass Coordinator and Tlingit activist, Wanda Culp, advocating for the Roadless Rule in Washington D.C. alongside allies, Holly Harris (right), Earthjustice, and Osprey Orielle Lake (left), WECAN Executive Director and delegation organizer. Photo Credit: Melissa Lyttle
Please watch WECAN International's videos detailing our ongoing campaign in the Tongass National Forest.
Defend Forests, Climate, and Communities - Protect the Tongass!
Tlingit Women Advocate During Historic Delegation To Protect Tongass Rainforest
Call To Action To Protect The Tongass Rainforest
The 2001 National Roadless Rule, adopted by the United States Forest Service, protects 9.2 million acres in the Tongass National Forest from road building and logging. The Roadless Rule protects much of the ecosystem and has allowed the Tongass and forests across the United States time to heal from decades of destructive old-growth logging.
Beginning in the 1950’s, aggressive, controversial commercial logging clear-cut large areas of the Tongass, negatively impacting the forest and the local Indigenous Peoples who are tightly intertwined with the dynamic ecosystem. Logging in the Tongass destroys sacred sites of the Indigenous Peoples of the region, damages areas of traditional and customary use, and harms watersheds and rivers as well as the global climate. Even with a destructive history of industrial logging, the Tongass still contains the largest remaining tracts of temperate old-growth rainforest in the world and a vital solution to our current climate crisis.
Wanda Culp, WECAN Tongass Regional Coordinator speaking out during the "Turn Out for the Tongass" Rally with the WECAN Indigenous Women's Tongass delegation and allies in Juneau, Alaska - Photo via WECAN International/Katherine Quaid
Protecting the forest means respecting Indigenous rights - A new report adds to the growing body of evidence that indigenous peoples are the best protectors of the forests they call home. [Mongabay]
Preserving and restoring forests is a key climate solution - Halting the loss and degradation of natural systems and promoting their restoration have the potential to contribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation scientists say is required by 2030. [ICUN]
The Tongass is a global champion in carbon sequestration - According to the Forest Service, the Tongass accounts for approximately 8 percent of the carbon stored in our National Forests. [Dela Salla 2015]
Cutting Forests down adds to carbon pollution - Globally, deforestation (8-15%) and forest degradation (6-13%) contribute more greenhouse gas pollution than the world’s entire transportation network, which is why countries, including the U.S., must commit to reducing emissions and protecting forest sinks. [GEOS Institute]
New budget data reveal that the USFS has continued to lose millions of dollars on Tongass timber sales in recent years. In total, the USFS has lost approximately $600 million over the last twenty years or $30 million per year on average. [Taxpayers for Common Sense]
The 2001 National Roadless Rule is publicly supported - When the Forest Service developed the Rule in 1999, more than 1.6 Million people commented on the rulemaking process, more than any other rule in the nation’s history. [EarthJustice]
The Tongass is home to an abundance of wildlife - More than 400 species of land and marine wildlife inhabit Tongass National Forest, including bald eagles, black and brown bears, wolves, moose, and Sitka black-tailed deer [Pew Trusts]
Learn more about WECAN International’s program and campaign
in the Tongass, on our "Women for Forests" page.
Trees standing tall along the edge of Chichagof Island near Hoonah, Alaska in the Tongass National Forest. Photo by WECAN International/Katherine Quaid