USDA Invests in Small Acreage Forest Landowners to Advance Climate Markets

green forest with clearing in sunlight

(Credit: Flickr)

by | Aug 24, 2023

green forest with clearing in sunlight

(Credit: Flickr)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service will provide $150 million to help underserved small-acreage forest landowners connect to voluntary climate markets.

Forests have been identified as crucial in stabilizing the Earth’s climate, and protected forests are known to store human-caused carbon emissions. Providing support for owners of small forests can help in their efforts to protect and preserve growing forests and prevent deforestation.

Emerging private-sector markets have been creating incentives for keeping forests productive and healthy through reforestation efforts and improved forest management. This funding should allow landowners to access the economic opportunities of these programs. Many small-acreage landowners lack the resources needed to properly manage forests and protect them from pests, disease, wildfires, and other threats to forest health. Financial incentives help these landowners address these issues and support more resilient forests.

Funding comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, building on investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for forest health treatments and creating competitive grants for non-federal forest landowners.

Small Forests’ Role in Climate Change Mitigation

Economic incentives have been made in order to keep forests healthy because of their value in fighting climate change. Many markets, however, include high acreage requirements and start-up costs that have barred many private forest owners from both reaping economic benefits and managing forests to help in climate change mitigation.

“Healthy, resilient forests store carbon, provide critical habitats for wildlife, and grow forest resources that are the lifeblood of communities across the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “So much of our nation’s forest land is privately owned, and, thanks to historic resources made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, these private landowners will have an opportunity to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, no matter their background and no matter their means.”

The Notice of Funding Opportunities provides specifics on eligibility, deadlines, and proposal requirements of the Landowner Support for Forest Resilience Program. The USDA Forest Service also expects to provide similar future funding opportunities specifically for tribal nations.

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