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Carbon Financing and Reforestation:  Supporting Landowner Partnerships

Published: May 20, 2024 by

A common theme in policy debates and carbon market discussions around forest projects is that forests provide a multitude of important environmental and social benefits. Part of the value of investing in forests for their carbon sequestration and storage potential over other project types are the extra ecosystem functions and social values that forests provide, including water quality protections, wildlife habitat, recreation, cultural and religious values, food, fiber, and others.

The challenge for landowners, project proponents, and project developers is how to balance these various benefits and maximize outcomes. Forests are complex natural systems and the dynamics at play that produce various positive or negative outcomes mean that there is no single perfect project that delivers maximum carbon plus all other environmental and social benefits all the time, and from all acres. With the exceptional energy in the market currently surrounding afforestation as a major opportunity for scaling sequestration, carbon finance is an important funding source for conservation. As more programs and financing focus in on these projects, it is critical that landowners and land managers find the right fit to meet their objectives with carbon financing that helps deliver the desired outcomes in the ecosystems they steward.

The Climate Trust’s (TCT) approach to carbon finance helps support forest benefits beyond carbon, and we achieve this by prioritizing partnership with landowners. In the TCT Reforestation and Afforestation program we are flexible in designing planting approaches that meet the specific management objectives of our landowner partners while delivering quality offsets to the market and providing meaningful revenue back to landowners. In the field, this entails detailed discussions around tree spacing, planting species composition, appropriate site prep and post-establishment treatments.

We recognize that carbon financing might not be the right fit in all situations, or for supporting all the ways in which landowners want to use their properties. Our development approach – affirming landowner goals and supporting multiple uses and benefits of their forests – is key to our success in designing successful Afforestation and Reforestation carbon projects.

We are excited to be a part of the growing network of reforestation and afforestation programs offering different project structures and financing to landowners. With a variety of program options, landowners have a better opportunity to fit the financing to their needs on the ground, rather than over-optimizing for carbon to the detriment of other forest benefits because of the requirements of the capital. As the Reforestation and Afforestation carbon community grows, we look forward to expanding the financial and technical resources available to landowners and partners to support a variety of impactful actions in a variety of forest types.