Biden to spend $150m to help small forest owners sell carbon credits

The Biden administration has announced that it will invest $150 million to help partner small forest owners with companies who want to buy carbon offsets and other environmental credits.

The Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said programs that allow private companies to offset their own emissions by paying to protect trees have disproportionately benefited owners of large acreage.

Vilsack said “In order for those small, privately held forest owners to be able to do what they need and want to do requires a bit of technical help, and sometimes that technical help is not easy to find. And it’s certainly not easy to afford.”

AP reports that the grant money comes from the sweeping climate law passed by Congress just over a year ago and targets under-served landowners, including military veterans and new farmers, as well as families owning 2,500 acres (1,011 hectares) or less.

For owners of smaller family tracts, selling carbon offsets or other credits would give them an alternative income to harvesting their timber or selling their property to a developer.

Companies are pouring billions of dollars into environmental credits, but small landowners face daunting barriers to eligibility. To participate, owners need to take an inventory of their forested property, have a land management plan and run models to calculate the land’s carbon value.

The American Forest Foundation and the Nature Conservancy launched a joint program four years ago that covers many of the costs for family land owners to sell carbon offsets for their land.

Those groups and other non-profits will be eligible to apply for grants of up to $25 million to provide direct help to landowners under the Biden administration’s program. So will state forestry agencies, university agricultural extension services and others. The money could pay professionals to help owners develop land management plans or to connect them with with project managers who serve as middlemen between owners and companies seeking environmental credits.


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