A mixed species hardwood forest
Hardwood Forest A mixed species hardwood forest © © 2010 Richard Hamilton Smith


New England Family Forest Owners Win New Funding for Carbon-Friendly Forest Management

Family Forest Carbon Program to Distribute National Award

  • Eve Frankel
    The Nature Conservancy in Vermont

  • James Miller
    The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts

Family forest landowners in Vermont and Massachusetts who adopt carbon-friendly forest practices could be soon eligible for new support under a program being brought to New England by the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy

The Family Forest Carbon Program will provide ways for family forest landowners to adopt forest management practices that maximize carbon benefits and generate income through voluntary carbon markets and other sources. This program will also help landowners consider the future of their forest land, and the carbon it stores.

With careful planning and management, most forests can produce wood products while also increasing the carbon stored in the forest over time. Locally harvested wood can also sometimes replace building materials that have a larger carbon footprint, like steel and concrete, further reducing carbon emissions.

“New England’s forests remove and store atmospheric carbon that contributes to climate change. Helping private family forest landowners manage their forests to increase the amount of carbon they store is one of the most effective and low-cost ways to tackle climate change,” said Heather Furman, State Director of the Nature Conservancy’s Vermont Chapter.

The American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy’s Vermont and Massachusetts chapters will be working with the Vermont Land Trust and the Franklin Land Trust in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, to implement a pilot program, in which a select group of forest owners will be eligible for payments through a funding pool established with a recent $107,000 award from The Nature Conservancy’s Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator. The Accelerator Program is funded through a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“We are excited to work with our partners at Vermont Land Trust and Franklin Land Trust to identify the best way to incentivize landowners for storing forest carbon. This program is a great investment in both nature and people,” Furman said.

To kick off the Family Forest Carbon Program in New England, grant partners are developing and testing a suite of best practices for carbon-friendly management in Vermont and Massachusetts. A successful pilot project will enable additional Vermont and Massachusetts family landowners to use these practices to increase the carbon stored in their forests.  The program’s architects hope to develop a working template that can be adopted in other New England states.

“Private individuals and families own the largest portion of forests in the U.S. and are willing to help address conservation issues on their land. What often stands in there way is the cost,” said Nathan Truitt, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the American Forest Foundation. “Carbon markets for forest landowners, such as those the Family Forest Carbon Program will create, will help bridge this divide and allow them to manage their forests for improved water quality, soil conservation, and carbon storage.”

Natural Climate Solutions are actions to protect, restore, and better manage natural and working lands, such as forests, farms, and wetlands to reduce and remove carbon emissions.  In 2018 a 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 combined carbon emissions from all cars and trucks on the road in the United States.  

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 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.