A Guide to Advocating for Climate-Smart Restoration in National Forest Plans

  • Sarah Bates (National Wildlife Federation), Josh Elliott (University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation), Bruce A. Stein (National Wildlife Federation), Patty Glick (National Wildlife Federation), Kimberly R. Hall (The Nature Conservancy), Chris Topik (The Nature Conservancy)
  • Jun 30, 2021
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A Guide to Advocating for Climate-Smart Restoration in National Forest Plans offers guidance for public engagement in the national forest planning process to ensure that newly revised plans adequately address climate considerations and concerns. National forest plans set the overall management direction for a given forest and provide guidance for the design and execution of specific management actions. As the pace, scale, and magnitude of climate change has become increasingly evident, there is an urgent need for these plans to explicitly address the impacts and implications of a rapidly changing climate.

Forest planning rules were updated in 2012, and the new rule explicitly recognizes the growing risks to national forests from climate change as well as expands opportunities for public input and engagement. With an emphasis on restoring and maintaining healthy and resilient ecosystems, the rule requires consideration of both climate adaptation (i.e., efforts to address the impacts of climate change on forests) and climate mitigation (i.e., efforts slow the pace of climate change).

This report offers guidance for how individuals and organizations can provide input and offer public comment on draft national forest plans with a particular focus on climate-smart forest restoration. The guide offers background on the forest planning process as well as the scientific underpinnings of climate-smart forest restoration. The guide then offers specific suggestions for how to evaluate and review draft plans from a climate change perspective, and presents a series of “key questions” to help in crafting substantive comments that reflect emerging best practices for climate adaptation and mitigation. Finally, the guide provides a set of additional resources—including relevant statues and regulations, websites, and literature—that can be useful in the developing and submitting public comments on draft plans.

Over the next few years, many national forests are or will be in the process of revising their forest plans. Because forest plans typically are in effect for at least 15 years—a timeframe that coincides with a critical period for addressing the global climate crisis—stakeholder engagement and input in the planning process can have an enduring impact not just on the future of our national forests but for our planet.

A Guide to Advocating for Climate-Smart Restoration in National Forest Plans was developed as a collaboration among the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and American Forests with financial support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

A Guide to Advocating for Climate-Smart Restoration in National Forest Plans


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