OSM Proposes Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative
The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative is a cooperative effort between the states of the Appalachian region and US Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, leading the way to reforest mined lands—old and new—through the use of cutting-edge research and diverse partnerships.
The Initiative proposes the creation of a Green Forest Works for Appalachia program to help achieve our partnership’s goals. This program will employ over 2,000 Appalachian citizens to reforest old mined lands, similar to reforestation efforts performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.
Successful reestablishment of diverse hardwood forests that once dominated these lands will provide a significant carbon sink and a renewable, sustainable multi-use resource that will create economic opportunities while enhancing the local and global environment.
ARRI scientists estimate that between 750,000 and 1 million acres of old surfacemined land is available for reforestation in the eastern coal fields. The existence of these neglected mined lands presents significant environmental challenges for Appalachia, but also provides many opportunities through the creation of green jobs, environmental enhancement, and climate change mitigation.
Through the Green Forest Works for Appalachia program, many economic, social, and environmental improvements will be realized for the citizens of Appalachia. Forested watersheds help control flooding and improve stream water quality.
Thriving forests sequester carbon, clean the air, and help offset global climate change. Diverse forests provide habitat for wildlife and support a variety of recreation activities important to local human communities. Healthy forests are renewable and sustainable, thereby providing local jobs for an existing and growing wood industry for decades to come.
Over a period of five years, the Green Forest Works for Appalachia program will create permanent employment for approximately 2,000 local residents from rural coalfield communities planting more than 125 million trees on over 175,000 acres.
A copy of the Reforestation Initiative is available online.
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