Biden signs Earth Day executive order to combat deforestation

Following remarks at an Earth Day celebration in Seattle, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting old-growth trees on federal land from deforestation as well as wildfires.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: So today, I'm about to sign an executive order to strengthen our forests on federal lands and make them and the local economies they support more resilient in the face of wildfires. I've flown over every major wildfire in this country with FEMA since-- not every, a couple I didn't-- but the vast majority of them. And it's devastating I've seen it from helicopters with FEMA just flying over here and Idaho.

I didn't get to go to Oregon or California. It's absolutely devastating. So we're gonna work with state and local and tribal governments to map, catalog, and then conserve old growth forests in our public lands. These are the forests--

[APPLAUSE]

We're gonna do this. These are the forests that store and sequester incredible amounts of carbon and help us fight climate change, the forests that are home to majestic trees like the ones here in this park's magnificent forest. You know, the executive order I'm gonna sign is gonna make good on the international forest protection commitments from the proposal I made in Scotland at Glasgow 26. I got 140 countries to sign up and say that together, we represent 90% of the world's forests.

And this includes our own effort to crack down on trafficking of illegal logged wood and products like the ones illegally deforesting areas around the world. In addition to that, I put in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that we're gonna plant 1.2 billion trees, 1.2 billion trees across this country to begin the vital work of reforesting America. It makes sense, and it also makes a big difference--

[APPLAUSE]

--including in our cities and on our city streets-- the executive order also recognizing when it comes to protecting our communities from floods and storms, nature can help us as well. For example, when it comes to stopping flooding, sometimes a wetland is more effective than a seawall. I live along a state where it's only an average 3 feet above sea level, the state of Delaware-- the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Well, you saw what happened, by the way, down in the Gulf. You saw what happened in Louisiana when they had that-- you know, it matters whether or not there's wetlands. They're significantly more consequential than seawalls. In order to help bring more of those nature-based solutions into our planning, we have to move quickly.

And with this executive order on Earth Day, we're also showing this moment of maximum threat and urgency can also be a moment of enormous hope and enormous opportunity that, you know, we carry in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, [INAUDIBLE], I know you all feel it. You wouldn't be sitting here in the cold with your coats not on if you didn't.

So I'm now gonna sign this executive order, and I think we're gonna make-- I just think this is the beginning of a new day. We're gonna just have to overtake the opposition on this. I really mean it. So thank you all for being here. I'm gonna sign this executive order--

[APPLAUSE]

--strengthening the nation's forest communities and local economies. And it's all about planting about a billion 200 million trees. So-- and by the way, anybody bring their shovels? All right.

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