A carbon program for landowners and conservation

It’s no secret that family forest owners care about their land and want to do what’s right for forests, wildlife, and the planet. The fast-growing voluntary carbon market can unlock the potential for these landowners to protect their woodlands and their land’s legacy. But their goals for improving forest health are often out of reach; as of 2019, the vast majority of small-forest owners were unable to participate in a carbon market project due to high upfront, market complexity, and 100-year contracts.  These barriers have also kept the benefits of carbon projects – increased revenue and improved forest health – out of their hands.

That’s why, in 2020, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) launched the Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP). Uniquely designed for small-parcel landowners, the program provides them a critical revenue stream while helping them achieve their personal land goals and make a positive impact on the planet. FFCP provides annual payments to family forest owners to follow scientifically proven forest management practices that increase carbon sequestered and stored in their trees. Enrolled landowners also receive expert assistance from a professional forester and a forest management plan customized to each property.

Each forest management practice is regionally specific, developed with the help of local forestry experts and stakeholders to ensure they not only increase carbon sequestration and storage, but also benefit wildlife habitat and forest heath and resiliency. The program also offers options that allow landowners to continue to harvest, or thin and cut trees for personal use within the forest management practice guidelines. The program seeks to complement the forest products industry as an additional revenue option for landowners’ diverse forest goals.

The Family Forest Carbon Program is actively enrolling landowners across the U.S. in the Northeast and Central Appalachians regions, as well as in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Enrollment is available to properties with as little as 30 acres who meet the region-specific forest management practice requirements. In the Midwest region, landowners have the option to enroll in two different practices based on the type of forests they own. Enrolled landowners commit to following their forest management practice for the next 20 years and in return are guaranteed annual payments throughout the contract period, regardless of carbon credit sales. Payments are determined by property size and forest conditions and harvesting is allowed during the 20-year contract period, within the sustainable harvesting guidelines of the contract.

The program’s robust offerings appeal to a broad range of landowners, including those who are new to forest management. “I’ve been meeting with landowners on their property who have never met with a forester before,’” says Sarah Hall, Senior Forestry Manager for the Family Forest Carbon Program. “These visits are a gateway for landowners who may not have had the financial or technical resources to get started. Their journey may start with our program, but it’s unlocking a much broader opportunity to roll up their sleeves and tackle conservation.”

The Family Forest Carbon Program aims to make a meaningful impact on the planet, which is why integrity is at the root of the program – both for landowners and companies. Using a new forest carbon accounting methodology recently approved by Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard as well as a rigorous vetting process for buyers who purchase the program’s verified carbon credits, the Family Forest Carbon Program is committed to ensuring landowners and corporate buyers alike are participating ethically and can rest assured that their contribution to the planet is credible and impactful.

Learn how you can support carbon sequestration and promote forest conservation on your property by attending the Family Forest Carbon Program Landowner Overview webinar. Discover the program’s benefits, requirements, and application process, and explore how it can generate new revenue streams while helping to combat climate change. Register now to secure your spot!

Landowners who are interested in enrolling their forests in the Family Forest Carbon Program can learn more at www.familyforestcarbon.org.