Vermont Business Magazine Today Amazon announced a $10 million grant to conserve and restore sustainable forestry and wildlife across the Appalachian Mountains and other US regions, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, the American Forest Foundation, and the Vermont Land Trust. Starting in Vermont and Pennsylvania, this donation will support two projects that will help family forest owners sequester carbon across the Appalachians.
Investment will help remove over 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—equivalent to 46 billion miles driven by an average passenger vehicle—by helping to restore and conserve family-owned forest lands.
In light of COVID-19, this initial grant will immediately help small family forest owners in Vermont and Pennsylvania and create a new source of income to help restore and conserve forest lands and protect wildlife. Nature based initiatives like these are critical in addressing climate change and helping maintain water and food security, biodiversity protection, human health, and disaster risk management.
This is the first investment of the $100 million Right Now Climate Fund, which Amazon announced last fall as part of The Climate Pledge commitment to become net zero carbon by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
Families across the country own 290 million acres of America’s forests, more than the federal government or the forest industry, and have an opportunity to help reduce carbon in the atmosphere and slow climate change through sustainable forest management and restoration that conserves and maintains the ecosystems of forests for the benefit of present and future generations. Families will be provided the tools and resources needed to assess, plan and implement forest management practices that increase the economic and ecological values of their forests.
Amazon, The Nature Conservancy, the American Forest Foundation, and the Vermont Land Trust are partnering on two innovative projects – the Family Forest Carbon Program and Forest Carbon Co-ops. The Family Forest Carbon Program will open up carbon credit markets to small family forest owners. Amazon's commitment will expand the program in the Appalachians and other U.S. regions, and go towards designing new methods for measuring and verifying reforestation and forest management practices.
The Forest Carbon Co-op will help owners of mid-sized forests use sustainable forest management and protection measures to earn income through the carbon credit market. Amazon’s grant will support efforts to expand the program in climate resilient forests across the Appalachians, develop a scientific approach to regional carbon impact measurement, and enhance the project verification methodology.
Amazon is the largest funder of these programs and will help:
- Conserve and sustainably manage forest land and wildlife in Pennsylvania and Vermont, with plans to expand the projects across 4 million acres of the 2,000-mile span of the Appalachians, and beyond.
- Generate economic opportunities by creating a new source of income for family forest owners and rural communities that taps into the carbon storage potential of forests – in the U.S., families and individuals own the largest portion of forests (38%), more than the federal government or corporations.
- Achieve a net reduction of up to 18.5 million metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2031 – the equivalent of 46 billion miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.
“These projects will conserve forests and wildlife for future generations – and the planet – and help remove carbon from the atmosphere,” said Kara Hurst, Vice President, Sustainability, Amazon. “Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund will be investing $100 million in nature-based climate solutions like these that tackle the climate crisis while also having a positive economic impact in the community and in nature. We are delighted to work with The Nature Conservancy, the American Forest Foundation, and the Vermont Land Trust on our road to achieving Amazon’s Climate Pledge goal of being net zero carbon by 2040.”
“Family forest owners are a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to tackling climate change,” said Lynn Scarlett, Chief External Affairs Officer, The Nature Conservancy. “But many of America’s nearly 11 million family forest owners may face barriers that prevent them from taking action. Those who own small acreages have not been able to access existing carbon markets – which can provide income as well as help sequester carbon on their lands – due to high development costs. This funding from Amazon will, for the first time, allow small-scale forest landowners to tap into the economic opportunity linked to the carbon sequestration and storage potential of U.S. forests.”
“Across the U.S., 1 in 4 rural Americans owns forest land,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “Collectively, they own the largest portion of forests in our country – making them key to addressing our climate challenges. More than their size is their dedication to the land – these individuals want to help the environment. Amazon’s commitment will go a long way and open doors for nearly 11 million Americans families to do even more to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”
“In partnership with Amazon and The Nature Conservancy, we are creating something which has never existed before: the opportunity for small forest land owners to join together and manage their land in such a way that earns them revenue through the carbon credit market,” said Nick Richardson, President and CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. “That’s an incredible benefit for the forest landowners of Vermont and all of us who rely on their efforts. That’s the future of our work and the future of conservation across the country.”