The National Forest Foundation Conservation Finance Program develops new ways to fund restoration projects on National Forests. National Forest provides valuable goods and services, like clean water, carbon sequestration, and recreation-based economies.
Our Conservation Finance Program explores opportunities to quantify and value these goods and services to spur investment from individuals, businesses, or local governments that want to maintain or improve the delivery of specific services. Conservation Finance both increases the amount of funding available for projects, and uses finance mechanisms to change the timing of funding to accelerate restoration.
The program currently focuses on three primary areas of work: environmental markets, Innovative Finance for National Forests, and fund aggregation.
When new development affects existing wetlands, developers are often required to buy wetland mitigation credits to offset their impacts. In fall 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved NFF’s In-Lieu-Fee Program for compensatory wetlands mitigation.
This first-of-its-kind program, developed specifically for operation on National Forests, provides an innovative way to fund the restoration of streams and wetlands on National Forest lands in western Colorado through the sale of formally regulated wetland and stream credits.
The NFF already recognizes and can quantify the carbon benefits of our reforestation work and we are now developing tools to assess the carbon impacts of forest restoration activities.
Carbon benefits motivate many companies and individuals to support our work because these actions reduce greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere while also providing other essential benefits like wildlife habitat and watershed health improvements. Carbon claims are important for meeting companies' Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Social Governance goals.
Innovative Finance for National Forests
The Innovative Finance for National Forests grant program is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S Endowment for Forestry and Communities, and the NFF. The program was designed to foster innovative conservation finance approaches.
There are currently 10 projects finding new ways to leverage private capital to support the resilience of the National Forest System and surrounding lands through the program. These projects cover a range of issues and use a variety of approaches. More information on all of the projects can be found here: link to project descriptions.
Fund Aggregation is the collection of funding from multiple sources to complete large-scale projects. This approach is useful when projects can benefit numerous entities, and each entity is willing to support a portion of the total cost.
Forest Resilience Bond
The Forest Resilience Bond (FRB) that Blue Forest Conservation developed and NFF is implementing on the Tahoe National Forest is an excellent example of fund aggregation. The FRB combines funding from the State of California, Yuba Water Authority, U.S. Forest Service, and the NFF to complete forest restoration projects. In this case, the FRB also helps accelerate the pace and scale of restoration by using upfront financing to complete the project faster than would otherwise be possible.
Watershed Investment Partnership
Another examples of fund aggregation includes the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, a watershed investment partnership developed by the NFF that has raised more than $5 million from dozens of funders to support restoration of the forests surrounding northern Arizona communities and the watersheds that supply surface water to the greater Phoenix area.
Restoration Funding Aggregation Report
In 2020, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation asked the National Forest Foundation to gather information on restoration funding aggregation models used in states across the West. This report was developed to inform efforts to implement the Montana Forest Action Plan, a state-level program intended to achieve shared stewardship and cross-boundary project implementation.
For more information about the NFF's Conservation Finance Program, contact:
Spencer Plumb, Conservation Finance Program Manager