The Tongass National Forest
The Tongass is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the world, storing more carbon than any other national forest in the country and slowing the impact of climate change.
Carbon emissions from cars, factories, and airplanes contribute to climate change. Forests, especially mature and old-growth forest like the Tongass, capture and store that carbon, which helps slow climate change.
The amount of carbon stored in trees of the Tongass National Forest – if left standing – is equal to the yearly CO2 emissions of over 421 million vehicles.
The Salmon Habitat
Drought, floods, landslides, warming water temperatures, and other extreme weather events are becoming more common as global temperatures rise and are likely to have a significant impact on the ocean, rivers, lakes and streams, and the fish that inhabit them.
The warming climate can alter spawning and rearing habitat, spur changes in run timing, and decrease food availability. Species often are forced to shift their distributions to find suitable habitats, with varying degrees of success.
Industrial clear-cut logging of mature and old-growth forests in the Tongass reduces the forests’ ability to store carbon. This accelerates the effects of climate change, making salmon, trout, and other wildlife less resilient to these effects and disturbances. It also decreases the amount and diversity of fish and wildlife habitat, reducing opportunities for subsistence users, anglers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts who recreate in the Tongass.
Fish & Facts
Forests slow climate change just by standing.
Absorbs Carbon Emissions
The Tongass is capable of absorbing and storing the annual carbon emissions of more than 882,850 United States citizens. The average annual carbon footprint for a person in the United States is over 22 tons CO2-equivalent, one of the highest rates in the world.
10 Acres Counterbalances 1 American
Every 10 acres of mature and old-growth forest in the Tongass counterbalance the yearly carbon footprint of 1 American, and there are more than 9 million acres of old growth forests in the Tongass.
Refuge for Fish & Wildlife
Mature and old-growth forest in the Tongass provides cold, clean water and refuge for fish and wildlife. Climate change can harm fish and wildlife habitat by changing water temperatures and flow levels, while also contributing to more severe weather conditions. This puts additional stress on already-stressed populations.
Mature and old-growth forests store substantial amounts of carbon. Within the Tongass, mature and old-growth Sitka spruce stands store the greatest amounts of carbon, estimated at 107.2 tons per acre in live and dead trees in the forest that are at least 200 years of age.
Fish & Wildlife Habitat
In addition to a warming ocean, climate change has the potential to alter Alaska’s freshwater salmon habitat. Increased flooding, higher water temperatures, and altered stream flow patterns are already being seen across the region - the question is, will salmon be able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment?