Family Forest Blog

Maryland Department of Environment Approves $2.5 Million for Natural Climate Solutions Through Landmark Loan Guarantee

American Forest Foundation

January 10, 2023

A creek in Bel Air, Maryland running through a forest in the fall.

Loan Guarantee Through State Revolving Fund Is Historic First, A Critical Financing Innovation for Climate Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 10, 2023) – The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a conservation organization that harnesses the power of family forest owners to create meaningful conservation and climate impact, announced today the approval of a first-of-its-kind $2.5 million loan guarantee through the Maryland Department of Environment’s (MDE) Water Quality State Revolving Fund (SRF) to finance natural climate solutions in Maryland’s family forests.

This landmark loan guarantee enables the Family Forest Carbon Program to continue providing opportunities for Maryland landowners and their communities to protect their land and the planet.

The loan guarantee provides AFF’s subsidiary, the Family Forest Impact Foundation, with an innovative tool to unlock private finance for the generation of carbon credits through the Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP). The guarantee is the first in history that leverages carbon markets and private finance to fund natural climate solutions and improve water quality, setting a national precedent for using SRFs to fight the effects of climate change through forests.

“AFF collaborates with family forest owners so they can build a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and our planet,” said Rita Hite, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “America’s family forests have the potential to remove more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere in the next few decades. But historically, financial and technical barriers have kept many rural landowners locked out of opportunities to leverage their forests as natural climate solutions. This landmark loan guarantee enables the Family Forest Carbon Program to continue providing opportunities for Maryland landowners and their communities to protect their land and the planet.”

More than 80 percent of family-owned forests in the United States are made up of individual parcels of 1,000 acres or less, but these forests constitute less than 1 percent of the forest carbon projects available on the voluntary carbon market. Using the SRF loan guarantee provides essential upfront capital to enable programs like FFCP to drive down financing costs, expand access to voluntary carbon markets and empower family forest owners to make a significant contribution to the resilience of America’s woodlands.

“The Family Forest Carbon Program has allowed landowners to harness the power of Maryland’s forests in the fight against climate change,” said Tim Purinton, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland Chapter. “We are pleased to see Maryland set this precedent of unlocking loans from the State Revolving Fund to finance natural climate solutions, and we’re grateful to Delegate Dana Stein for championing the groundbreaking legislation that made this loan possible.”

FFCP, a partnership between AFF and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), helps family forest owners implement climate-smart forestry that enhances the role forests play in protecting water quality. The program requires forest management practices that ensure the long-term health of waterways, and prevent erosion and pollution associated with land conversion. Leveraging MDE’s loan guarantee is the latest development in FFCP adopting new strategies that put us on the cutting edge of climate action.

“I am thrilled that MDE has approved a loan guarantee through the Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund for the Family Forest Carbon Program,” said Maryland Delegate Dana Stein, vice chair of the Maryland House Committee on Environment and Transportation. “This is exactly the type of project I envisioned when I sponsored and passed House Bill 94 in 2021 to expand the authorized uses of the guarantee authority under the State’s SRF program. I want to thank TNC and AFF for their great work taking action for Maryland’s climate through innovative and results-based environmental financing.”

Clean Water SRFs, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are self-perpetuating financial assistance authorities for water quality improvement projects in the United States. The EPA provides grants to all 50 states, providing low-cost financial assistance to help reach state and federal clean water goals.

FFCP is currently enrolling landowners in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties in Maryland, as well as across the Northeast, Central Appalachian and Midwest regions of the United States. To learn more about the American Forest Foundation and the Family Forest Carbon Program, visit familyforestcarbon.org.

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About the American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation (AFF) harnesses the power of family forest owners to deliver sustainable and measurable natural climate solutions that meet the needs of landowners, American communities and the planet. Our Family Forest Carbon Program provides the tools for small landowners to improve the overall health and climate potential of their forests. To learn more about AFF’s commitment to fighting climate change, visit forestfoundation.org.

CONTACT: Kristen Voorhees, Communications Director, media@forestfoundation.org

American Forest Foundation

January 10, 2023

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