Family Forest Blog

American Forest Foundation Awarded $35 Million through USDA Grant to Unlock Climate-Smart Market Opportunities for Family Forest Owners

Kristen Voorhees

September 14, 2022

MIKE-EMORY-JOE

Funding Will Catalyze Reach of Field-Tested Family Forest Carbon Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 14, 2022) – Today the American Forest Foundation, a national conservation organization that works to deliver meaningful conservation impact through the empowerment of family forest owners, received $35 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities to expand climate-smart forest products markets for family forest owners.

This funding will be instrumental in catalyzing the impact of AFF’s Family Forest Carbon Program to support and empower all landowners in the fight against climate change.

“The USDA’s groundbreaking investment will help AFF unlock the potential of family forests to reach our nation’s ambitious climate goals,” said Rita Hite, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “We are energized by the Administration’s commitment to investing in rural America and advancing win-win solutions for people and our planet. This funding will be instrumental in catalyzing the impact of AFF’s Family Forest Carbon Program to support and empower all landowners in the fight against climate change.”

The $35 million grant will fund Engaging Family Forests to Improve Climate-Smart Commodities (EFFICACI), an initiative developed by AFF and its partners The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Purdue University, Center for Heirs Property Preservation and Women Owning Woodlands.

EFFICACI is designed to leverage the Family Forest Carbon Program, a program led by AFF and TNC, to expand and solidify the market for climate-smart timber commodities by:

  • Enhancing production of climate-smart forest products by engaging family forest owners across 13 states including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

  • Supporting minority landowners, particularly in the South, through community outreach, resources, and legal education and services for historically underserved landowners

  • Developing a first-of-its-kind tracking system where third-party verified climate benefits are associated with wood products that come from participating properties that flow into supply chains

  • Combining the use of climate-smart Measuring, Monitoring, Reporting and Verifying (MMRV) techniques with systematic and innovative digital tools to streamline the landowner experience

The initiative aims to engage 1,600 landowners with an estimated 162,000 acres of family forests within a five-year time frame. U.S. families and individuals care for the largest portion (39 percent) of our nation’s forests, and supply 50 percent of the wood fiber that flows into supply chains. Yet the majority of these owners are not actively engaged in sustainable or climate-smart forest practices, typically due to the historic high costs of planning and implementation. Less than 13 percent of landowners have met with a professional forester or have a long-term management plan, and less than 1 percent of the lands in carbon markets are small, family ownerships. This grant will help the Family Forest Carbon Program continue to bridge the gap between financial barriers and family-owned forests’ potential. The program works with family and individual landowners to manage their forests in ways that meaningfully increase the amount of carbon sequestered and stored, and partners with businesses who are working to confront climate change and achieve vital social, economic and environmental outcomes.

For more information, contact Kristen Voorhees, AFF communications director, at kvoorhees@forestfoundation.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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