Protecting Ancient Forest Ecosystems

Resolution Adopted by the




Resolution adopted

at the 111th Convention of the

Central Conference of

American Rabbis

March, 2000


In a brief moment in the life of

our planet, we have destroyed all but a remnant of Earth’s ancient

forests. Over the last 300 years, the majestic ancient forests that

once covered our continent have been reduced to a small remnant. The

United States has already lost a stunning 96% of its old growth

forests. Worldwide, 80% of old growth forests have been destroyed, and

every year another 16 million hectares fall to the ax, torch,

bulldozer, or chain saw.

As a result,

thousands of creatures are at risk of extinction. Worldwide, 25% of

mammals, 20% of reptiles, 25% of amphibians, and 34% of fish are in

danger of extinction. Destruction of forests is a leading cause. Water

around the world is polluted with the soil that washes off bare

mountains. The biological inheritance of human-kind is being forever

diminished, reducing potential sources of medicines, foods, and


The remaining wild forests are refuges for

thousands of threatened creatures and plants, and are vital to the

protection of clean water sources for tens of millions of North

Americans. Wild forests also serve as refuges for the human spirit,

places where we can witness the Creator’s majesty, reflect upon the

mystery of life, and hear the small, still voice within. Tragically,

few alive today have ever stood in an ancient forest.

Judaism teaches that we have a sacred obligation to the

Creator, to Creation, and to future generations to safeguard and

protect Earth’s ecosystems. Before the Flood, Noah and his family

protected at least two of every animal species, enabling all creatures

to make safe passage from one era of human history to the next. After

the Flood, God said to Noah: “Behold, I establish My covenant with

you, and with your seed after you, and with every living creature that

is with you, of the birds, of the cattle, and of every wild animal of

the earth with you” (Genesis 9:9).

Our heritage calls

on us to serve as protectors and defenders of God’s magnificent

creations, ensuring safe passage of all creatures from one era to the

next by protecting their habitats. It is our duty-as people of faith,

and citizens of our nation, our world, and our biosphere-to safeguard

and weave together the patchwork of remnant forests as best we can.

Therefore, the Central Conference of American Rabbis calls

upon all Reform house-holds, schools, synagogues, and camps to:

  • recycle waste paper and buy only those paper

    products that are made with a high percentage of post-consumer content

    recycled paper;

  • use

    only wood certified as sustainably harvested by the Certified Forest

    Products Council for all construction purposes;

  • divest from corporations whose

    activities contribute to the destruction of forests in the U.S. and

    abroad; and,

  • dedicate one Shabbat or holiday (such as Tu B’Shevat or

    Sukkot) to learning about environmental issues and Jewish

    environmental ethics.

Furthermore, the CCAR calls upon the federal government


  • move forward with President Clinton

    ‘s initiative to protect roadless areas in National Forests in a

    manner that protects all roadless areas over 1,000 acres, including

    those in Alaska, from all logging, mining, and other commercial


  • manage all

    public lands in a such manner that preserves and restores biological

    diversity; and,

  • end

    all subsidies for logging and mining on public lands and immediately

    suspend all such activities in all old-growth forests and other

    threatened habitats on public lands.