The Nature Conservancy protects and manages vast stretches of Tennessee forests that are capable of reducing carbon in the atmosphere while generating income for private landowners and local communities. Part of these efforts included collaborating with the State of Tennessee in 2012 to acquire what now comprises the Doe Mountain Recreation Area, one of the largest remaining privately owned blocks of forest in the Southern Blue Ridge region.
In 2019, the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (DMRA) registered the 8,600-acre property as a forest carbon project. After a baseline for the forest’s carbon storage levels is established, scientists will measure the forest's health and carbon capturing ability as conservation is implemented over a 40-year period.
The DMRA will also sell carbon credits to corporations seeking to offset emissions, with revenues dedicated to conserving and operating an adventure trails system. The project demonstrates the economic and ecological benefits of sustainable forest and recreation management.
As markets for forest carbon have matured, managing forests to maximize value beyond timber alone is a growing, international strategy used to diversify both biological and financial gains. With this approach, the project aims to protect wildlife habitat, promote biodiversity and sequester atmospheric carbon to mitigate climate change, all while fostering important investments in the local economy.