Forests cover more than 750 million acres of land in the United States. They are our nation’s largest terrestrial “carbon sink,” continuously taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the trees.
However, although they occupy about one-third of U.S. land, forests currently balance only 15% of our country’s carbon emissions. Studies suggest this number could be nearly doubled through carbon-smart forest management.
An untapped opportunity in family-owned forests
Family forest owners (those who own between 20 and 1,000 acres of forestland) are a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to fully utilizing our natural carbon sink.
This is because the majority of forests in the United States—39%—are owned by families and individuals. They care deeply about the health of their woods and the future of their land. And they want to play an active role in doing right by their trees.
Despite their valuable experience, family forest owners are currently locked out and are often unable to realize the true potential of their land.
The majority of family forest owners struggle with technical expertise and high costs when it comes to optimizing their land for carbon sequestration.
What’s more, traditional forest carbon projects are designed in a way where costs for entry and long-term maintenance are far more than small landowners would ever receive in revenue—meaning the majority of U.S. forests are sidelined from being part of the climate mitigation solution.
Leveraging the power of carbon markets
Carbon markets put a dollar value on carbon, incentivizing efforts to reduce emissions in our atmosphere. In addition, they provide an opportunity for family forest owners to bring in additional income from their land which can help them cover the costs of forest management activities that sequester and store carbon. The funds can also drive economic stimulus to their local communities.
However, due to complexity, high upfront costs and contract lengths, less than 1% of current carbon projects are on acreages between 20 and 1,000 acres (the size range of family-owned forests). This means 39% of forestland in the United States is currently underutilized in the fight against climate change.
We are working to change this.
Learn more about the Family Forest Carbon Program, an innovative solution designed to help family forest owners tap into the power of carbon markets, and how your company can partner with us on climate.
January 10, 2023
Maryland Department of Environment Approves $2.5 Million for Natural Climate Solutions Through Landmark Loan Guarantee
The American Forest Foundation announces a first-of-its-kind $2.5 million loan guarantee through the Maryland Department of Environment’s Water Quality State Revolving Fund to finance natural climate solutions in Maryland’s family forests.
December 23, 2022
FY23 Omnibus Bill Removes Barriers to Climate Action for Rural Landowners
The American Forest Foundation responds to today's passing of the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill that included critical funding for family forests and two key climate provisions.
November 28, 2022
Peter and Julie Parker: Good Stewardship Today Helps Secure Our Collective Future
Peter and Julie Parker, Vermont landowners enrolled in the American Forest Foundation's Family Forest Carbon Program, recently shared their story with Woodland Magazine.