The Family Forest Carbon Program pays woodland owners to carry out specific activities (“practices”) on their land that enhance wildlife habitat and water quality, while also increasing the carbon stored on the landscape. Every year, FFCP will measure the carbon in this region, based on a sample of enrolled properties, and sell that Carbon to businesses who are interested in sustainability and improving their carbon footprint. The money from those sales will provide funding for the overall program including the practice payments to landowners.
Recently Amazon announced it’s $7.3 million investment to support the Family Forest Carbon Program. Amazon’s donation will support the program in Pennsylvania and demonstrates the significant role family forests play as a solution for climate change mitigation. The Family Forest Carbon Program provides a credible and effective option for private landowners to benefit from the carbon market. The FFCP is currently offering payment for two practices in Pennsylvania, both of which will result in a healthier forest and better habitat for many species of birds and other wildlife.
Growing Mature Forests
The first practice is called Growing Mature Forests. For this practice, funding is provided to limit timber harvests and let your trees grow large for 20 years. While the types of timber harvests are limited, this practice does allow for sustainable forest management.
To participate in this practice, a landowner will need develop and adhere to a property-wide, 10-year forest management plan for two consecutive decades (20 years total). They will also need to restrict timber harvests as follows:
- If multiple timber harvests, the total basal area removed cannot exceed 35% of the basal area at time of enrollment
If one timber harvest, it may not remove more than 35% of the current basal area
May not thin from above (in other words, the average stand diameter can’t be reduced by more than 10%)
Finally, all landowners in this practice will need to inform the FFCP of any planned timber harvests and submit a form every 5 years confirming that they are sticking to the practice requirements.
The payment for landowners participating in the Growing Mature Forests will depends on the land when the contract is signed. The more timber currently on the land, the more money paid per-acre to enroll it in this practice, from $120 to $400 per acre over the 20-year contract period.
Enhancing the Future Forest
The second practice is called Enhancing the Future Forest. This practice is for landowners who are already planning a regeneration harvest (such as overstory removal, group selection, or shelterwood harvest) or have done one in the past ten years. Funding is provided to remove invasive or other competing plants that prevent trees from growing back healthy. Landowners will treat enrolled stands to reduce competing vegetation by at least 85% of pre-treatment levels and maintain these levels throughout the contract period. Finally, landowners will submit a form every 5 years confirming that they are sticking to the practice requirements.
Please note that there may be additional practice requirements and the payment rate and schedule are subject to change before the time of signing your contract. Landowners will be provided with the contract to review and share with their tax or legal representative before signing.
This program is a unique and exciting opportunity for Pennsylvania landowners, and we encourage you to learn more about how you might take advantage of it.
Find out which practices you might qualify for, and learn more by visiting the FFCP Website or contacting FORECON for more information.