Stories in Kentucky

Working Woodlands

Empowering conservation-minded landowners to employ their forest lands to benefit people and nature.

A forester is bundled up in bright orange on a sunny winter day.
Working Forests A forester sustainably harvests a tree. © George C. Gress/The Nature Conservancy

Private forest owners who own a minimum of 2,000 forested acres, gain new options with regard to their lands with the expansion of The Nature Conservancy's successful Working Woodlands program into Kentucky.

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, Working Woodlands engages willing owners of small working forests to benefit from forest management expertise offered by The Nature Conservancy and partners in exchange for agreeing to protect their land from further development.

Nuts and Bolts

Specifically, the U.S. Forest Service grant funds Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling to identify high priority forest lands in Kentucky, as well as a training workshop for staff members to learn about the program's project development and implementation. This work serves as an important first step to expanding the Working Woodlands program to Kentucky.

“Privately-owned lands are especially vulnerable to development and fragmentation, and small landowners often lack the resources they need to take advantage of the most current management techniques and sustainable forestry opportunities aimed at offsetting carbon in the atmosphere,” says Danna Baxley, director of conservation for TNC’s Kentucky Chapter. “This program allows us to reach out to these landowners about the important role their property can play in storing carbon and cleaning our air and water.”

Why Working Woodlands

To enroll in the program, qualifying landowners sign their forested acres into conservation easements or long-term management agreements to prevent conversion into non-forest uses and unsustainable management practices. After an extensive certification process facilitated by TNC, these properties then become part of a network of voluntary carbon offset projects that collectively have an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In turn, landowners secure assistance from the Conservancy and agency partners to implement some of the following actions on their property:

  • Forest and carbon inventory
  • Ten-year sustainable forest management plan
  • Forest Stewardship Council® FSC C008922 certification
  • Revenue from the sale of FSC-certified timber
  • Revenue from selling to carbon markets

This approach allows landowners to manage their woodland acres sustainably, with no upfront costs. Revenue generated by FSC-certified products from these enrolled properties goes directly to the landowner. Landowners can also pursue additional revenue from sequestration credits sold on the nation’s growing carbon market.

“The net result is better-managed forestlands, more carbon sequestered and greater incentive for landowners to protect their lands long-term,” adds Baxley. “The Working Woodlands program represents a win for both private landowners and for conservation.”

Who is eligible?

Interested landowners who own a minimum of 2,000 forested acres should contact Will Bowling (606-599-6077) with the following information:

  • Name, e-mail and telephone number
  • Total acres
  • Total wooded acres
  • Property address
  • County, Township
  • Tax Map ID#

Once accepted into the program, the Conservancy meets with the landowner to set goals and design a plan. NOTE: All information submitted will be kept strictly confidential.

Working Woodlands is based on a simple principle--landowners agree to keep enrolled acres in a natural state; in return, they benefit from assistance aimed at helping them improve the value and the health of the forest."

Director of TNC's Working Woodlands Program
Orange ribbon tied around a hemlock tree.
Hemlock Forest Stand A hemlock tree marked with an orange ribbon will be sustainably logged as part of TNC's Working Woodlands Program. © Kelly Donaldson