As Earth Day approaches, we see a complex, changing world ahead of us. It’s an undeniable fact that our Earth’s climate is changing. Over the past century, we have seen large increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. This buildup of greenhouse gases is changing the Earth's climate and challenging our ability to produce food and fiber.
While this is something we can’t change overnight, we all have a responsibility to take care of our planet by reducing our carbon footprint and working to offset what we can’t reduce.
There are many ways to offset our carbon footprint, but one of the easiest methods may be as simple as maintaining healthy forests and woodlands. As trees grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has calculated that our forests currently sequester approximately 10–20 percent of the country’s emissions each year. This accounts for 90 percent of all the carbon sequestered in the U.S. today. Managing forests and woodlands is a key national climate change strategy.
Unfortunately, trees are decreasing at an alarming rate. And while the most rapid rate of deforestation has slowed over the past decade, forests are converted each year for development or other uses, or lost to natural causes like fire, storms and disease.
I’m happy to announce that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service have joined forces once again to help mitigate the effects of climate change by working together to improve the health and resiliency of our forest ecosystems. Through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, the two agencies are working to restore forested landscapes by focusing on regenerating high quality hardwoods, such as oak on private and public lands. The project is located in eighteen counties of the most heavily forested and biologically diverse forest systems in southern Indiana.
Every day is Earth Day for NRCS in Indiana. We are doing our part to help meet the challenges that lay ahead for our world by helping landowners take action to improve their land. I am so proud of our employees and partners who have a passion for what they do and who work every day to make Indiana a great place to live.
You are invited to learn more about the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Stop by and talk with your District Conservationist or visit our website www.in.nrcs.usda.gov. To locate the office nearest you, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.