United States

We can restore forests in the U.S.

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Seedlings growing in rows at a nursery in Arkansas.

Planting trees is a tried-and-true natural climate solution that benefits people and nature. Here's how your land can help.

Baby Trees Reforestation starts with seedlings grown at nurseries around the country. In the U.S., we could plant 76 billion trees on frequently flooded lands, open urban spaces, degraded pastures and other formerly forested, under-utilized areas. © Rory Doyle

An Enormous Opportunity for People and Nature

In the U.S., there is an enormous opportunity to address climate change and generate revenue for landowners through reforestation.

  • trees behind a fence

    148M

    Acres in the U.S. that could be reforested.

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    76B

    Trees could be planted across the country.

  • pollution icon

    492M

    Tonnes of CO2 could be removed.

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    88%

    Of the opportunity is on privately owned land.

Two people walking through a sunny forest.

For millennia, trees have pulled carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Photosynthesis is the oldest carbon-capture technology on Earth. In fact, research led by The Nature Conservancy has shown that in the United States, planting trees on frequently flooded lands, open urban spaces, degraded pastures and other formerly forested, under-utilized areas could help significantly mitigate the climate crisis.

An Opportunity for Landowners Landowners can benefit from reforestation by planting trees on their frequently flooded or otherwise degraded land. The forests will make your land more resilient to fires and flooding, and there are opportunities to earn money by selling carbon credits. © Mike Wilkinson
Three deer in a snowy forest.

The benefits of reforestation extend beyond climate.

Tree planting also provides clean air and water, opportunities for outdoor recreation, improved habitat for wildlife, and in some cases, new revenue for landowners.

Reforestation Benefits Wildlife Planting trees to restore forests creates more habitat and room to roam for animals. © Kent Mason

Quote: Susan Cook-Patton

There is something so satisfying about putting a tree in the ground and knowing that your children or grandchildren will be able to clamber in the branches.

Susan Cook-Patton Senior Forest Restoration Scientist

Reforestation is an example of a natural climate solution.

Natural climate solutions, or efforts to protectbetter manage and restore nature, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon. Combined with cutting fossil fuels and accelerating renewable energy, natural climate solutions offer immediate and cost-effective ways to tackle the climate crisis—while also addressing biodiversity loss and supporting human health and livelihoods.

What are carbon credits?

Landowners can earn money by planting trees through the sale of carbon credits.

How Carbon Markets Work

Research has shown that taking steps to protect, better manage and restore our forests represents the biggest opportunity for reducing pollution through natural climate solutions. It is critical that we plant trees now so that they can begin absorbing and reducing carbon. 

Natural climate solutions must be nature-based, sustainable, climate-additional, measurable and equitable. That means that in order to be effective, reforestation should benefit the climate, the environment and the community. 

Here are examples of reforestation projects around the country: