Sustainably managed working forests provide not just wood and fiber, but a range of other benefits: clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage, flood protection, recreational and cultural values, and more. Scaling up investments in sustainable forest management can generate financial returns for good stewardship of these multiple conservation values.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is working to increase and unlock funding for stewardship and restoration of public and private forest lands by collaborating with the conservation finance sector. Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace recently partnered with USFS and the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroAtlas team to develop a beta version of a screening tool to identify key opportunities for catalyzing shared investments in sustainably managed working forests.
The goal of the tool is to begin to identify working forests in the United States with good potential to generate revenue from the multiple conservation values created through sustainable management and restoration. Those values are our signposts toward opportunities for cross-boundary public and private investments. The analysis also supports USFS in deciding where and how to provide technical assistance for landowners seeking to access conservation investments.
Building on the screening tool developed here, Ecosystem Marketplace and USFS hope to refine our approach in consultation with stakeholders, and explore more in-depth analysis identifying priority areas to target for new public and private investments. We’d also like to explore additional conservation investment opportunities, such as source water protection, water quality trading, and emerging small-diameter timber products. Analysis could also look specifically at investment models most appropriate for specific forest landownership types, property sizes, and capacity for implementation and investor engagement. Finally, our findings could be augmented by a demand-side analysis looking at local and regional market demand drivers and enabling conditions for investment.