WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2022) – The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a national conservation organization that works to deliver meaningful conservation impact through the empowerment of family forest owners, responds to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $1 billion investment through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.
American Forest Foundation (AFF) President and CEO Rita Hite said:
“We at the American Forest Foundation are excited by the focus and unprecedented investment USDA is placing on our forests and farmland for our climate, which will unlock significant market opportunities for landowners in rural America, helping them contribute more to tackling climate change while achieving their land goals.
Across the U.S., 1 in 4 rural Americans own forestland. Collectively, these owners care for the largest portion-39 percent- of forests, making them a critical constituency that must be brought to the table if we want rural America to take action for our climate. This constituency has historically been undervalued and under-resourced in relation to other agriculture producers and the impact their lands have on mitigating climate impacts.
Yet, family forest owners goals’ align with that of the planet – they want their forests to remain as forests and for them to be healthy and productive into the future. What has prevented most from acting is the high costs of management and the lack of resources to offset costs. Markets have long been the preferred incentivize-based option that can help meet both the goals of landowners and that of the planet.
The type of projects this USDA investment could fund – innovative, market-based programs – will produce real, measurable and verifiable climate benefits. An example is the Family Forest Carbon Program, developed by AFF and The Nature Conservancy. The Family Forest Carbon Program is an inclusive opportunity for owners of small forest parcels to be able to access private carbon markets, where in the past they have been shut out. The program goes further and also provides professional resources to help them care for their land and shift to long-term sustainable forest management. The program is currently available in 3 states, and has already helped mitigate 335,002 tons CO2e as of mid-December.
We applaud the USDA for pushing for innovation, unlocking the potential in rural America, and we look forward to working with them to continue to find solutions that are a win-win.
Contact: Elizabeth Greener; (202) 253-1096; firstname.lastname@example.org
About the American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation is a national conservation organization that works with a broad coalition of partners to empower family forest owners to make a meaningful conservation impact around carbon sequestration, wildfire reduction, wildlife habitat, clean water, sustainable wood supplies and support for rural communities.
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