Families across the United States own 290 million acres of America’s forests—more than the federal government or the forest industry. By sustainably managing and restoring these forests, families like Margaret Hartman’s are actively helping reduce carbon in the atmosphere, slowing climate change, and conserving entire ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations. But they need help.
"My grandfather bought our farm in 1939, [but] it takes a lot to take care of the property," said Margaret Hartman, who owns Chestnut Farms in Pennsylvania with her sisters. "We want it to last a long time, and it’s our responsibility to protect it for future generations."
To support family forests like Hartman’s, Amazon donated $10 million toward the Family Forest Carbon and Forest Carbon Co-op programs in April 2020. The donation was made as part of Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund, a $100 million initiative to remove carbon from the atmosphere through the restoration and conservation of forests, wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands in the U.S. and around the world.
Operated by The Nature Conservancy, American Forest Foundation, and Vermont Land Trust, the Family Forest Carbon and Forest Carbon Co-op programs work closely with family forest owners like the Hartmans. The programs provide owners with the tools and resources they need to assess, plan, and implement economically and ecologically beneficial forest management practices.
"Families and individuals care deeply for their land," said Christine Cadigan, Senior Director of the American Forest Foundation’s Family Forest Carbon Program. "Programs like the Family Forest Carbon Program have become powerful conservation finance tools to help these owners realize their individual goals and simultaneously help the planet."
Amazon's donation will also enable the expansion of these programs in the Appalachians and other U.S. regions over time by catalyzing the design of new methods of measuring and verifying reforestation and forest management practices.
Supporting nature-based solutions like forest conservation and restoration plays an increasingly necessary and complementary role to the decarbonization of business operations. These solutions can neutralize emissions that companies cannot yet eliminate within their value chains due to technological barriers. The solutions also provide many benefits that preserve the natural world, such as conserving wildlife habitats, protecting biodiversity, improving water quality, and reducing flood risk. All of these benefits can enhance well-being in communities around the world.
"Nature-based solutions are a scientifically proven way to bridge to a decarbonized future," said Amazon Vice President for Sustainability Kara Hurst. "Amazon’s $100 million Right Now Climate Fund has the power to tackle the climate crisis while also having a positive economic impact on family forest owners and help Amazon reach net-zero carbon by 2040."
"Conserving forests is critical to tackling climate change," said Josh Parrish, Director of the American Forest Carbon Initiative at The Nature Conservancy. "Every forest has a story. We are working on writing the next chapter of that story by investing in nature for future generations."