NEW GRANT PROGRAM SEEKS PRIVATE INVESTMENT IN OUR NATIONAL FORESTS

October 21, 2019 Preproposal Deadline

U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SC
National Forest Foundation, Missoula, MT

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE (September 16, 2019)

The Innovative Finance for National Forests program is a new partnership that provides grants to engage private investment capital to support the health of the National Forest System and meet the mission of the USDA Forest Service. It is funded by and administered by the USDA Forest Service (USFS) National Partnership Office (NPO), the National Forest Foundation (NFF), and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment).  Full information is available at www.ifnfgrants.org.

“Our National Forests are a priceless resource for all citizens,” said Mary Mitsos, President and CEO at the NFF. “They provide rural jobs, wood, water, and other forest products, outstanding recreation opportunities, habitat for fish and wildlife—the list goes on and on. This new partnership and grant program will attract private sector funding that will help the Forest Service and their partners address pressing management challenges.”

National Forests face numerous and growing challenges that jeopardize the ecologic, economic, and social benefits these landscapes provide. The impacts of catastrophic wildfire, drought, flooding, and insect and disease disturbance are increasingly severe, exacerbated by rising temperatures and growing development pressures. The scale of need outpaces the capacity of appropriations and traditional philanthropy to fund necessary work. 

The goal of Innovative Finance for National Forests is to support innovative approaches that directprivate investment capital to improve the health of the National Forest System through projects that deliver environmental and social outcomes and financial returns,” said Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “This is a truly new approach that will explore the potential to attract significant private capital to deploy for natural resource challenges.”

One example of the type of project that could be considered for funding through this program is the Forest Resilience Bond pioneered by Blue Forest Conservation. The Forest Resilience Bond is a financial vehicle that aggregates payments from downstream beneficiaries of forest restoration activities–water utilities and large-scale water consumers, hydroelectricity generators, and carbon emitters–to reimburse investors. This model, with its large-scale upfront investment, allows for more rapid implementation of restoration activities than would be possible through incremental funding approaches such as federal appropriations.

“The challenges facing our nation’s forests demand new partnerships and approaches,” said Jacqueline Emanuel, Director, USFS National Partnership Office. “Our collaboration with the NFF and the Endowment will explore the potential to attract new sources of funding for urgent needs on our National Forests and adjacent lands.”

Innovative Finance for National Forests is a planned $4 million, five-year, competitive grant program. Full information and an application form are available at www.ifnfgrants.org.

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For more information contact:
Peter Stangel
,  404-915-2763, peter@usendowment.org
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities – www.usendowment.org

Marcus Selig, 720–437-290, mselig@nationalforests.org

Founded by Congress in 1991, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) works to conserve, restore and enhance America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System. Through community-based strategies and public-private partnerships, the NFF enhances wildlife habitat, revitalizes wildfire-damaged landscapes, restores watersheds, and improves recreational resources for the benefit of all Americans. To learn more, visit us at http://www.nationalforests.org.

Tommie Herbert,
540-905-9531, Catherine.herbert@ussda.gov
The USDA Forest Service National Partnership Office (NPO) has a Conservation Finance Team. It is a small but growing team driven by a mission to unlock and expand financing for agency priorities, with a focus on the engagement of private capital through replicable partnership models that support resilient forests and forest-dependent communities.

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