How We Conserve and Restore Forests
Forests are the lungs of the Earth. They also provide habitat to most of the world’s species, clean our water, moderate our climate, provide sustenance, support millions of jobs, and offer refuge and recreation to billions of people around the planet. This is how we work with forests.
Protecting, Restoring, and Reforesting the Lungs of the Planet
Forests are home to 80% of the species that live on land. From protecting Mianus Gorge in 1955 to the Cumberland Forest Project in 2019, The Nature Conservancy has been working with governments, corporations, indigenous peoples, and thousands of partners around the world to protect, restore, and sustainably manage our life-giving forests.
- In the United States, The Nature Conservancy is working to protect the most diverse temperate forests on Earth in the Appalachians and along the Emerald Edge of western North America.
- We are restoring forests to help them be resilient to wildfires, climate change, and to enhance water quality and quantity.
- In the American South, we are working to restore 8 million acres of longleaf pine across its historic range.
- In the Maya Forest of Central America, we worked with a multi-sector coalition to protect some of the most biodiversity-rich forest in the world. This project avoids deforestation of some 236,000 acres (96,000 ha) of tropical forest in northwestern Belize.
- In Brazil, in the Mantiqueira Mountains we're showing land owners how reforestation can be a lucrative business while also fighting climate change.
- In the craggy Yun Ling Mountains of southwestern China, we're engaged with the Yunnan Golden Monkey Protection Network, which aims to restore and reconnect the increasingly patchy landscape for the endangered monkey and other species.
- Science is critical to inform how we can best achieve healthy forests. Through research and resources such as the Reforestation Hub, The Nature Conservancy is providing tools to help foresters, landowners and agencies apply solutions quickly.
Improving Forest Policies and Funding
All of these efforts to help the forests that improve our lives can get energized by government engaging with supportive policies and funding. We work around the globe to provide science, know-how, and investments to create better outcomes for citizens and businesses through policy engagement.
The Nature Conservancy was instrumental in helping pass the "fire funding fix" in 2018, which gave the U.S. Congress the ability to appropriate federal disaster funding to the Forest Service and Department of Interior for a portion of their wildfire suppression activities. This change stabilized overall agency budgets, and eliminated the need to chip away at non-fire programs to increase suppression budgets.
Forests Offer Our Biggest Natural Climate Solution
Climate change is happening all over the world, threatening the well-being of people and wildlife. But nature itself offers a solution. By storing carbon in growing trees, and other natural systems such as farms and coastal wetlands, we can accomplish one-third of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep global temperature increases below 1.5°. Forests provide most of that carbon-storage opportunity, and The Nature Conservancy has projects around the world that are putting this solution to work.
- The Nature Conservancy is developing new financial and investment mechanisms to fight climate change and invest in saving the planet's forests. The Rio Bravo Reserve in Belize is an example of how it can be done.
- In the United States, the Conservancy’s Working Woodlands, Family Forest Carbon Program, and state programs are helping small private forest landowners participate in carbon markets, generating income so landowners can grow healthier, bigger trees that provide better carbon storage and wildlife habitat.
- We are also working to prevent the loss of live trees to pests and pathogens, through programs like “Don’t Move Firewood”.
Safely Restoring Fire’s Role in Forests
TNC has been working with fire since 1962, when we conducted our first controlled burn, and our approach has evolved from one that was primarily focused on managing our preserves to one that includes policy and finance, elevating the contributions of tribes and other indigenous peoples, growing skilled and diverse fire management workforces, and helping communities develop ways to live more safely with wildfire in forested areas.
- In the United States, TNC helps lead the Fire Learning Network, Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, Indigenous Peoples Burning Network, maps conditions through LANDFIRE, helps train new fire workers in TREX programs, and performs controlled burns across tens of thousands of acres each year.
- In some forests we are combining ecological thinning with a safe reintroduction of fire to improve forest health and habitat.
Trees in urban neighborhoods improve air quality and mental health, lower air temperatures, decrease flooding, and provide habitat for wildlife. The Nature Conservancy is working around the country to increase and improve tree cover for people and wildlife.
The Nature Conservancy is working with residents of St Louis, Denver, Chicago, and other cities to improve outcomes for residents and students through tree planting and care.
Mature shade trees provide the most benefits for our communities. To help protect these urban forest workhorses, The Nature Conservancy has a long-standing partnership with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Georgia to engage civic ecologists and conservation professionals in the monitoring and maintenance of mature trees through the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities Initiative.
How YOU Can Help Forests
You play an important role in improving the health of forests, in your own neighborhood, and across the globe! Here’s how you can help: