United States

The Working Woodlands Program

Landowners interested in conserving their forestland receive management assistance with improving the value and health of their land.

A cloudy sky is viewed through colorful treetops.
Pennsylvania Forest This forest in Pennsylvania is enrolled in The Nature Conservancy's Working Woodlands program. © Melissa Parlow

Destruction of forests contributes more to carbon emissions than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.

This decade is critical to halting climate change. Landowners can play a major role in reducing and storing carbon emissions.

According to the United States Forest Service, more than half of our nation’s forestlands are “owned and managed by some 11 million private owners.”

These forests benefit us all due to the role they play in filtering air and water, harboring wildlife, storing carbon, and boosting local economies through the creation of jobs and domestically-produced forest products.

Unfortunately, the destruction of forests worldwide—from development, pests, catastrophic wildfires and a changing climate—contributes more to global greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships in the world combined.

In response, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working with private landowners to secure and sustainably manage privately owned forestlands to benefit the environment and local livelihoods.

The Working Woodlands program currently has on-the-ground projects in Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York, and is currently working on expanding the program into other states.

A large tree trunk dominates the forest floor.
Hemlock A hemlock tree trunk at Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania © The Nature Conservancy

What is the Working Woodlands Program?

The principle behind Working Woodlands is simple. Landowners agree to manage their forests sustainably in return for conservation and management assistance with improving the value and the health of their land.

Specifically, TNC works with landowners to analyze a property’s potential as wildlife habitat and for fighting climate change. In return, participating landowners receive:

  • A detailed assessment of the forests, wildlife and carbon on their property.
  • A customized 10-year forest management plan.
  • Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council® FSC C008922 which allows the sale of forest products under the FSC-certified label.

Working Woodlands allows landowners to manage their forestlands sustainably, with no upfront costs. Revenue generated by FSC-certified products from these enrolled properties goes directly to the landowner.

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In addition, TNC has the ability to quantify the carbon-capturing power of forests. Private landowners who enroll their property in Working Woodlands have an opportunity to sell credits to businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and have a positive impact on the environment. The majority of carbon revenues also stay with the landowner, except for a small portion dedicated to help pay for Working Woodlands program expenses.

An infographic illustrates how TNC's Working Woodlands program operates.
Working Woodlands Infographic (Click to enlarge.) Working Woodlands is a forest conservation program that aims to protect healthy and productive private forestlands. © The Nature Conservancy

How to Enroll in the Working Woodlands Program

Landowners who own a minimum of 2,000 forested acres may be eligible to enroll their property into Working Woodlands. To enroll in Working Woodlands, a qualifying landowner is required to sign their forested acres into conservation easements or long-term management agreements to prevent conversion into non-forest uses and unsustainable management practices. 

Interested landowners should contact workingwoodlands@tnc.org with the following information (which will be kept strictly confidential):

  • Name/Email/Telephone Number
  • Total Acres/Total Wooded Acres
  • Property Address
  • County/Township
  • Tax Map ID#

After the 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.

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Explore Working Woodlands in These States

Contact Us

To learn more about enrolling your property in Working Woodlands, contact:

Barry Ulrich, Director
Working Woodlands Program