Climate Winners: Five Projects Win Funding for Innovative Natural Climate Solutions

More Funding Immediately Available for Additional Projects

Washington, D.C.

Through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Nature Conservancy’s U.S. Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator program awarded a total of $850,000 to five innovative projects designed to develop and test approaches for reducing emissions and storing more carbon on natural and working lands in the U.S.  A request for proposals for the third round of funding opens today.

“The 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5 degrees Celsius Report are urgent wake-up calls on the need for ambitious and innovative climate action” said Catherine Macdonald, TNC’s North America Natural Climate Solutions Director  “By funding these innovative projects, we hope to kick-start promising, cost-effective nature-based climate solutions.” In addition to their climate benefits, natural climate solutions protect water supplies, improve soil health and productivity, provide wildlife habitat, buffer flood zones, create healthier communities and increase income for private landowners. 

The winning projects are targeting innovations to accelerate climate action in coastal wetlands, forests and agricultural lands across the country:

  • The Savanna Institute received $250,000 to help farmers and farmland managers accelerate a practice called “alley cropping” in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Alley cropping is the practice of planting trees at wide spacings between rows of companion crops. In addition to increasing carbon storage by planting trees, alley cropping can increase crop production while diversifying farm income, improving soil retention, and providing wildlife habitat. The Savanna Institute and its collaborators will facilitate partnerships between tree farmers, crop farmers, landowners, and financiers through the development of a brokerage platform, help to bundle projects into investment portfolios, and provide monitoring services to evaluate environmental and agronomic performance. 
  • The Tierra Foundation was awarded $215,936 to focus on solutions to accelerate restoration of coastal wetlands and realize their carbon market potential. Coastal wetlands sequester more carbon per acre than most other ecosystems. Today, cost is a key barrier to coastal wetland restoration. The Tierra Foundation’s project will develop new public-private funding models and aggregating mechanisms to allow government agencies and private landowners to leverage carbon finance to implement wetland restoration. The project will focus on the Gulf Coast with a goal of directly impacting 4 million acres. In addition to the project’s climate mitigation benefits, restoring coastal wetlands improve water quality and protect communities from storm impacts.  
  • Manomet, Inc. of Massachusetts was awarded $177,000 to increase the climate mitigation value of commercial forest land. Manomet will partner with members of their Climate Smart Land Network, including many of the major forestry companies in North America, to quantify the benefits and improve enabling conditions for the adoption of management practices with potential to enhance climate change mitigation. Manomet is a science-driven sustainability nonprofit with a long history of research and engagement in the forestry sector. Long-term, their project is aimed at influencing management to increase carbon sequestration potential across 33 million acres from Maine to California.
  • The Nature Conservancy was awarded $107,000 to expand the Family Forest Carbon Program, a partnership Program with the American Forest Foundation. The Program, funded in the Central Appalachians region and California in the first Accelerator grant cycle, is designed to incentivize family forest landowners to keep their forests as forests and to adopt carbon-friendly forest management practices and generate income through voluntary carbon markets and other sources. Using a payments-for-practices model, the Program will have lower monitoring, reporting and verification costs making it easier for owners of smaller acreages to access carbon markets. Project partners will develop carbon-friendly practices applicable to forests in southern New England and eastern New York; hold forestry expert and practitioner workshops in Massachusetts and Vermont; and demonstrate the program with pilot landowners.
  • The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which operates as a project of the Soil Health Institute was awarded $100,000 to help test tools with potential to help farmers and ranchers interested in adjusting crop and livestock production systems to increase soil carbon sequestration and retention, improve water quality and conserve water use. Soils are one of the most cost-effective mechanisms for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Identifying effective tools for measuring, reporting and verifying ecosystem benefits are a critical step in achieving the Institute’s ultimate goal of launching a national Ecosystem Service Marketplace trading program. The Marketplace will provide interested landowners with access to markets to support their agricultural operations and could help generate carbon benefits across 250-300 million acres by 2030.

A 2018 study on the potential of Natural Climate Solutions in the United States estimates that nature-based solutions could remove an additional 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, greater than the carbon emissions from all cars and trucks on the road in the United States. Eriks Brolis, manager for the NCS Accelerator, noted that there has been strong and growing interest in this grant program, “we received 70 proposals seeking a total of $5.8 during the second request for proposals. Those interested in applying in response to the third request for proposals are encouraged to learn more about how to apply by visiting Accelerator.”

The U.S. Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator program is led by a Steering Committee of leading multidisciplinary experts in their respective fields. Committee members have helped to design the program parameters, select projects and ultimately work with grant recipients to help expand the growing community of practice around Natural Climate Solutions. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.