Family Forest Blog

AFF Expands to Reforestation with Field to Forest

Calvin Tran, Environmental Markets Manager

May 9, 2024

Row Crops

Forests offer a wealth of natural climate solution opportunities. Within US forests alone, there are 148 million acres of opportunity to store and sequester additional greenhouse gases. Within that, nearly 40% of all US forests are owned in small, nonindustrial parcels, spread among families across the country. Over AFF’s more than 80-year history, we’ve always centered family landowners in our mission, supporting them in forest stewardship and realizing the many values that their lands provide. The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP) was designed to unlock the financial and technical benefits of the voluntary carbon market for these landowners while activating their lands as partners against global climate change. AFF is constantly discovering how we can make a greater impact, and as such, we are expanding our offerings with Field to Forest, our first reforestation project.

 Reforestation Expands Our Climate Impact

While FFCP’s improved forest management practices focus on helping forest owners more sustainably manage their existing forests, Field to Forest is focused on generating new forest cover on land that did not previously have trees on it.  Along with the co-benefits of restoring native ecosystems, properly designed reforestation projects produce high-quality, nature-based carbon credits for climate-leading corporations to invest in nature and achieve their quantified climate targets.

Across natural climate solutions in the United States, reforestation has the largest greenhouse gas mitigation potential, followed closely behind by improved forest management. While it is paramount to continue protecting today’s existing forests and avoid producing new greenhouse gases, the science is clear: it is not enough. We must also actively remove carbon from the atmosphere by restoring forestland to stay within healthy planetary limits. With Field to Forest, AFF is offering landowners across the Southeast a new revenue stream to sustainably maintain their land for future generations while activating their land in the fight against climate change.

Launching in the South

The American Southeast boasts some of the nation’s most fertile and productive land, in large part due to the incredible soil and seasonal growing conditions. Along with forest products, the land is ideal for crops and cattle. From feeding the nation to being the wood basket of America, landowners across the South have a lot to be proud of. However, after many growing cycles and seasons of agricultural practice, some of this land is no longer as productive, making it difficult to maintain stable revenue streams for farmers, forest owners and cattlemen alike. This is especially difficult for family landowners as they must find ways to make ends meet despite the growing cost of land management.

The rising costs of land ownership and management are compounded by the rising median age of landowners. In Georgia, more than 40% of landowners are 65 or older. More and more landowners are confronting the reality of deciding the future for their land, and most of these decisions are not made alone; most times, these are family conversations, involving siblings and next of kin in the decision-making process. Arriving at a decision is more difficult with more stakeholders involved, placing the land at increased risk of outside acquisition and further degradation. Without a clear solution in place, many landowners across the Southeast could lose their lands and their livelihoods.

Enter: Field to Forest

Field to Forest makes it possible for landowners to keep their land in the family while expanding their legacies, building a stronger bridge from one generation of land stewards to the next. Field to Forest works with family landowners to transition their underused agriculture and cropland into native loblolly pine forest, providing landowners with new revenue streams while sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere.

AFF provides landowners enrolled in Field to Forest with access to local consulting foresters, a complementary forest management plan, and ongoing financial and technical assistance to maintain their newly forested land. In addition to annual financial payments for adhering to their provided forest management plans, enrollees can perform a selective thinning to realize timber revenues. Should a landowner choose to harvest timber once their forests grow to a certain volume, AFF will assist in replanting to maintain the forest’s carbon sequestration benefits.

AFF ARR Forester Walking the Land

A forester walks the property with an enrolled landowner to determine where planting will occur and what needs to be done to successfully grow a young pine forest.

This combination of technical and financial assistance through the Field to Forest project is especially helpful for landowners who do not come from a traditional forestry background.

On the conservation front, Field to Forest enrollees will also see improved ecosystem benefits, including restored soils and improved air and water quality. Landowners can continue to diversify their revenue streams further by selling hunting leases and other recreational opportunities with the improved ecosystem benefits they experience.

Connecting Families to the Future

Field to Forest expands the working lands legacy of the American Southeast by partnering with the next generation of great land stewards. Older generations can transition their land to less intensive, more hands-off forest management, and new generations can rest assured that they have all the tools they need to sustainably manage their land into the future. Along with feeding the nation and being the wood basket of America, families across the Southeast can be proud of their region’s conservation roots and global significance as a growing epicenter of climate solutions.

And we can’t do it alone. Over Field to Forest's lifetime, AFF aims to enroll over 200,000 acres, partnering with 80,000 landowners to sequester and store more than 16 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. To unlock this potential, public-private partnership is critical: philanthropy, government, investment capital, and carbon market revenues all have a role to play. Together, private and public funding can work hand in hand to effectively scale Field to Forest, creating a win-win-win for landowners, businesses, and the climate. If you or an organization you represent are interested in learning more about how you can partner with the American Forest Foundation, please reach out at

Calvin Tran, Environmental Markets Manager

May 9, 2024

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