Innovative Finance for National Forests Grant Program

Program Summary

The Innovative Finance for National Forests (IFNF) grant program supports the development and implementation of innovative finance models that leverage private and public capital other than US Forest Service (USFS) appropriations to support the resilience of the National Forest System (NFS).

The IFNF grant program seeks to:

  • Leverage private and public capital other than USFS appropriations to support agency priorities;
  • Deliver measurable social, ecological, and financial outcomes to many stakeholders;
  • Demonstrate solutions that promise improved financial sustainability for land management;
  • Chart a path to scale in addressing landscape-level challenges on and near National Forests;
  • Generate lessons learned to incorporate in agency management and decision making.

IFNF grants could, but are not limited to, support of innovative finance models that:

  • Enable debt or equity financing from public or private sources to pay for the upfront costs of a project that will be paid back over time by project beneficiaries (payors);
  • Access new or existing markets for environmental goods or services;
  • Access user-based fees or contributions;
  • Increase pace and scale of implementation by blending multiple sources of funding;
  • Employ any combination of the approaches listed above.

Program Update

UPDATE April 26, 2021

A second round of IFNF grant funding will be issued through a competitive grant process. The IFNF grant program seeks to fund innovative projects that might offer completely new ideas, new applications of approaches used in other sectors, or new applications of models used for land management to the National Forest System context.

Key Dates

  • Program announcement: April 27, 2021
  • Online application portal opens: May 3, 2021
  • Proposal submissions due: June 30, 2021 (Late applications will not be considered)
  • The IFNF team hosted two informational webinars on May 12 and May 20. If you were unable to attend here is a link the recording of the webinar.

Summary of IFNF Grant RFP Details

This round of grant funding will support projects across three focal areas that represent major Forest Service challenges:

  • Wildfire Resilience and Recovery
  • Sustainable Recreation Access and Infrastructure
  • Watershed Health

Across these focus areas, IFNF provides funding for three types of projects:

  • Pilot Projects that achieve on-the-ground implementation through novel pilot models or approaches.
  • Scaling Projects that function at the scale required to address sizable backlogs of unfunded work.
  • Research and Development Projects that contribute new knowledge or tools that could enable new forms of investment in USFS lands.

Project activities may take place on a National Forest, on adjacent state, private or tribal lands, or across boundaries as long as project outcomes contribute to the health of Forest Service ownership. IFNF grants support the design and execution of innovative finance models that show potential to address land management challenges at scale; the program does not support implementation of on-the-ground project activities.

>>>IFNF Requests for Proposals

IFNF Proposal Application Form: The application form is hosted on the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities online portal. The application form and all attachments should be submitted via the portal. The online application form will be available in the online portal on May 3rd.

Additional Resources

Conservation Finance Opportunities Map

The Conservation Finance Opportunities Map, developed by the USFS National Partnerships Office (NPO) and Geospatial Technology and Applications Center identifies landscapes with National Forest System properties that have demonstrated needs, are a Forest Service priority, and possess initial readiness conditions for conservation finance. In two tabs, it presents an index of conservation finance opportunity around watershed enhancement and recreation infrastructure improvements. In another tab, it collects existing data layers to enable user-directed exploration. The map is presented using a story map to frame the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the project.

The Conservation Finance Opportunities Map is intended as a tool to help USFS and partner organizations to:

  • Target further scoping and analysis to refine whether landscapes have potential to utilize innovative finance approaches
  • Target technical assistance and capacity building to accelerate the pace and scale of work on the ground
  • Explore data and illustrate places and projects that are a match for a variety of funding sources and finance tools
  • Give conservation finance project developers a starting point for ideas on connecting agency needs and investor interests

Click here to view the map.

Program Contacts

The IFNF grant program is funded by the USDA Forest Service (USFS) National Partnership Office (NPO) and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment). Additional administrative and technical support is provided by the National Forest Foundation (NFF). Interested parties are encouraged to contact one of the representatives below to discuss ideas or opportunities.