SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– On April 21, 2020, Amazon announced a $10 million grant to conserve, restore, and support sustainable forestry, wildlife and nature-based solutions across the Appalachian Mountains, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy. Nature-based solutions refer to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling challenges such as removing carbon from the atmosphere to slow climate change and helping maintain water and food security, biodiversity protection, human health, and disaster risk management. This funding will initially support projects in Pennsylvania and Vermont that will help family forest owners sequester carbon and support expansion across the Appalachians in a network of climate-resilient forests that scientists at The Nature Conservancy have identified as most able to thrive in the face of climate change.

This is the first project from Amazon’s $100 million Right Now Climate Fund, an initiative to remove carbon from the atmosphere through the restoration and conservation of forests, wetlands, grasslands and peatlands around the world. Last year, Amazon co-founded with Global Optimism and became the first signatory of The Climate Pledge – committing to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net zero carbon by 2040 through decarbonization of its operations and use of nature-based solutions.

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.”