December 16, 2011 -- ShadeFund Introduces “Crowd-Funding” to Jump-Start Green Entrepreneurs.
It has been used to send disaster aid across the globe with a simple text. It has been used to help farmers in Latin America expand their crop production. Artists around the world have used it to craft innovative projects in music, writing, and filmmaking. Now, donors can use it to help green entrepreneurs grow sustainable businesses in America. "It" is "crowd-funding" —a mechanism that allows individuals to pool money and other resources together via the internet— making even a small contribution yield a huge difference.
At the Endowment, we recognize the face of philanthropy is changing. While traditional methods of funding are often still the right way to fulfill our mission, we must also look to new tools and technologies to grow the green economy and support working forests. The Endowment-fundedShadeFund, created in partnership with The Conservation Fund, uses the concept of crowd-funding to provide green loans to small up-start businesses, turningsustainable ideasintosustainable realities.ShadeFund’s newest loan recipient,Fern Studios, crafts “stunningheirloom-quality tables, lamps and other furniture from sustainably sourced American hardwoods.” To this end, ShadeFund has provided a $7,500 start-up loan to buy equipment. But now Fern Studios is seeking an additional $2,500 through crowd-funding totransform space in a 19th century barn from chicken coop to workshop. In the spirit of the season, learn more and contribute to these and other entrepreneurs atwww.shadefund.org.
December 14, 2011 -- Endowment Plans Georgia Wood-to-Energy Project to Test Model for Asset Creation
As vitally important as family-supporting jobs are -- especially in this economy -- can a private business be “designed” to do more than provide jobs and generate profits for its owners?That’s the question that the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) hopes to answer with its investment in a wood-to-energy facility slated for east-central Georgia.
The North Star-Jefferson project is a partnership between the Endowment and North Star Renewable Power.The 23 Megawatt plant proposed for construction near Wadley, Georgia would use a well-proven technology while testing a starkly different ownership model.
“The Endowment would control up-to 40% of the facility through a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary (Community Wealth through Forestry, Inc. -- CWF),” says Endowment President Carlton Owen.“The intent is to test an ownership model that has a for-profit business partnering with a community – with CWF initially providing the funding and vehicle for community interests. This creates an entirely different mechanism that sees a significant portion of the profits from the business going directly to address one or more priority community needs in addition to the expected benefits that flow from a private business – jobs, taxes, purchases of goods and services, etc.” Clickhereto read the full press release orhereto read an emerging blog series about the project.
December 2, 2011 -- Endowment Releases External Review of Biomass Investments
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released the results of an external review commissioned to provide an assessment of its programmatic investments in the rapidly-changing woody biomass/wood-to-energy sector. " Among the greatest challenges facing healthy working forests is the lack of markets for small-diameter, dead, or dying wood," says Endowment President Carlton Owen. "Right-sized or community-scale wood-to-energy facilities offer great promise not only to help meet this challenge but at the same time to provide family-supporting jobs in rural communities while advancing one pathway to reducing dependence on unstable sources of needed energy."
The report, "Woody Biomass Programmatic Investments: An Independent Review and Recommendations," was developed by a five-person team of experts from across the nation. The intent was for results to serve as a mid-course review and offer insights that might aid the Endowment in better targeting future investments. "We are especially appreciative of the time that this 'blue ribbon team' of leaders provided," Owen continued. "They provided thoughtful criticism of things we could have done better in past investments while also offering sound recommendations that will help us better direct our work going forward." One of the Endowment's base commitments is to openly share the results of its works, "warts and all," so that anyone with interest in the subject area might benefit from the organization's experiences.
December 1, 2011 -- Canada Names Farrell to Liaison Role
The Honorable Ed Fast, Minster of International Trade for the Government of Canada, has named James Farrell as "Canadian liaison" to the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment). Farrell, most recently served as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, a position he held from 2006 to December2010. "We're pleased to have someone of Jim's stature and experience working with the Endowment's Board of Directors," said Endowment Chairman Mack Hogans. "He has big shoes to fill following our two prior liaisons, John Weaver and Stephane Rousseau, who both served with distinction." Under the terms of the Softwood Lumber Agreement 2006, each of the "meritorious initiatives" that received funding as part of the settlement between Canada and the U.S. were to have a liaison to their governing bodies to represent the interests and views of Canada's forestry sector. The Endowment amended its bylaws to allow election of the liaison to full Board membership. Mr. Farrell began federal public service in 1983 after prior positions with Abitibi Paper Company and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Forestry from the University of Toronto.
November 22, 2011 -- “Connections” Made Easier with Catalogue of Forestry and Related Organizations
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) has a dual mission often simply stated as “advancing healthy working forests and family-supporting jobs in rural forest-reliant communities.” “We know that each community has many needs and challenges that are well beyond our expertise and limited resources,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen. “So to improve changes for success, we take somewhat of a ‘forest-centric’ view to our work.” The Endowment also views collaboration and partnering as foundational to its approach. Even as an organization “close to the work,” we find that it is often difficult to identify and find the range of players who are already laboring to make a difference.
To aid in addressing this challenge, we have added a “Connections”page to our website to minimize time spent, by us and others, in looking for the array of organizations and first contact information. This catalogue of forestry-related organizations provides us with a central location for partners or sources of vital information while also helping others make “connections” with the broader forestry community. We recognize that this initial list is far from inclusive. It is designed as a first step that will grow. If you know of or would like to see an organization that should be added, pleasecontact uswith the name and a link for consideration.
November 16, 2011--Endowment Grantee Releases Report on Payment for Watershed Services
EcoAgriculture Partners, a DC-based group working to helpagricultural communities manage their landscapes, has released two versions of the report,Payment for watershed services in the United States:Cost-effective strategies to align landowner incentives for abundant clean water. Endowment Vice President Peter Stangel explains the report, “was commissioned by the Endowment to provide background on ‘who is doing what’ in this field and was one of the first steps in ourHealthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative. It wasco-funded with the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Markets.”
The study identifies 32 Payment for Watershed Services (PWS) programs across the U.Sthat provide economic incentives or other benefits to landowners in exchange for providing “watershed services” that help protect water quantity or quality. Watershed services include increasing aquifer recharge, storing flood waters, improving irrigation efficiency to restoring forests, protecting wetlands, and implementing pollution reduction measures. These measures are a “win-win” for both landowners andwater consumers as, “flexible incentives to landowners, which can increase landowner income, support watershed-friendly farm and forest management, and reduce costs to the public of maintaining abundant clean water.” The report reveals where PWS projects are taking place, analyzes who is participating and the associated motivations of the buyer and seller, and lays out opportunities and challenges moving forward.At the Endowment’s request, a special version of the report was created for busy decision- and policy-makers; this format highlights key findings in a quick read, and may be foundhere.The entire report can be viewedhere.
October 10, 2011 -- National Conservation Easement Database Fills Gap in Conservation Planning Filling a gaping hole in conservation planning, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today announced the release of the National Conservation Easement Database (www.conservationeasement.us), the first resource to offer detailed information on nearly 18 million acres now protected by more than 80,000 easements across the United States. Until its development, land and natural resource practitioners and decision-makers lacked a single system for sharing, accessing, and managing nationwide information about conservation easements. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements through which landowners, public agencies, and land trusts protect essential natural resources like drinking water, wildlife habitat, and land along lakes, rivers, and streams. By bringing together easement data that was previously scattered and incomplete, the database serves conservationists, planners, and policy-makers across the country.
"For the first time," said Carlton Owen, President of the Endowment, "it will be possible to see the location, size, and purpose of conservation easements on a nationwide basis. By having all this information in a single place, the easement database will save organizations precious time and money, because each won't have to create their own system." The National Conservation Easement Database was envisioned by the Endowment and created by a team of five leading conservation groups, including the Conservation Biology Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, NatureServe, and The Trust for Public Land. Funded by the Endowment, this important project received generous support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service. Click to see thefull press release.
September 29, 2011 -- USDA Study Supports Use of Wood as "Greenest" of Building Materials
In Washington, DC, today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the findings of a new U.S. Forest Service study indicating that wood should be favored as a primary building material in green building. The authors of Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Constructionreviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials. "This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America."
Carlton Owen, President & CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) welcomed and echoed Vilsack's statement. "Our work at the Endowment is founded on the belief that the best way to ensure forests for the future is to provide healthy and sustainable markets for all products of those forests -- wood, water, wildlife, and recreation among them. This study is great news for all Americans .... you can indeed have your forests and use them too and know that using forest products in a range of building applications is good for the environment, good for communities, good for the economy, and good for forests."
September 7, 2011 -- Woodworkers Share Time and Talent for Endowment Home Members of the Greenville Woodworkers Guild (Greenville, SC), are in the process of crafting a number of items for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities' (the Endowment) recently renovated headquarters. "We called on the volunteers at the Guild to help us re-purpose some items we salvaged from the old building that now serves as our home and to make a few things from surplus hardwood panels that would make the space more usable," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We couldn't be more pleased with the result!" Among the items completed are a small "break table" mounted around a metal support column along with movable stools that once were permanently fixed to the floor of the former Little Princess Restaurant. (See related story dated June 22, 2011 and the Blog dated June 3, 2011. The Greenville Woodworkers Guild, a not-for-profit (www.greenvillewoodworkers.com), was founded in 1981 by five woodworking enthusiasts. Today the guild boast nearly 700 members who volunteer their time and talent for community projects throughout the Upstate of South Carolina.
August 19, 2011 -- State Forest and Wildlife Plans Focus of Latest RFP
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released a Request for Proposals (RFP) entitled: "Coordinating State Forest Action Plans (State Forest Resource Assessments) and State Wildlife Action Plans: A Pilot Approach for the South." "The goal of this project is to enhance coordination and cooperation within and between states with regard to related plans, and to increase the effectiveness of on-the-ground conservation outcomes," said Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President of the Endowment. Partners in this project include the Southern Group of State Foresters, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the USDA Forest Service Southern Region, and the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The project will be owned-by, and for the benefit of, the respective state agencies with an overarching goal of better marshalling and deploying limited resources to achieve shared priority objectives," Stangel continued. By demonstrating the benefits of collaboration the partners anticipate that the process will usher in a new era of cooperation between state forestry and state wildlife agencies, and could lead to additional resources and/or better direction of limited funds to meet priority needs. States included in the pilot are: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The RFP opens immediately and will close on September 15, 2011.
August 11, 2011 -- Second Edition of "Issues in the Forest" Looks at Wood Pellets
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and its partners at the National Association of State Foresters, today released the second edition in the new"Issues in the Forest" series -- "Wood Pellets: Becoming a Primary Product." "The information age is yielding overload for many professionals and others interested in staying abreast of the facts of issues important to forests, forestry, and the forest-products sector," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We've designed theIssues in the Forestseries to help break through the clutter and allow a high-level overview of a single topic while trying to navigate the course of providing facts without advocating specific positions or outcomes." The second edition in the series looks deeper at an old topic -- conversion of woody biomass to densified pellets for fuel -- that is gaining lots of new attention due to global, especially European, market growth. Owen went on to add, "We always welcome feedback on our work, and especially would appreciate input on the series and topics that merit future coverage."
August 8, 2011 -- New Book Points to Importance of Markets to Forest Conservation
A new book produced by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory -- Sustainable Development in the Forest Products Industry -- provides strong evidence of the link between a vibrant forest products industry and healthy working forests. "The Endowment's entire theory of work is based upon the concepts contained in this work," says U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities President Carlton Owen. "The threat to healthy working forests isn't too many markets; it is just the opposite." To understand more about the importance of markets and forest conservation read this month's EndowmentBlog.
July 29, 2011 – Endowment Releases Request for Proposals to Review Fund Performance The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a qualified vendor to conduct an independent review of the organization’s investment strategy and its fund manager. "As part of our on-going plans and normal due diligence, we believe that the Endowment has sufficient history appropriate for a review," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. The Endowment has operated with Commonfund Strategic Solutions as the sole manager for the organization’s corpus since receiving its funding in spring of 2007. Proposals will be accepted through close of business on August 31, 2011. All work is to be completed prior to the Endowment’s spring 2012 Board of Directors’ meeting. To view the fullRFP click here.
June 22, 2011 -- Endowment Moves to New Home
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) has moved to permanent offices in Greenville, South Carolina. The facility, which the Endowment owns, provides double the space of its former offices. "We couldn't be more pleased with how this decision is turning out," says Endowment President Carlton Owen. "In addition to gaining needed and more functional space we've been able to do so in a way that is very cost-effective while working with our home town to repurpose and rehab one of the most visible properties in the community." To learn more about the project, visit the Endowment's Blog -- http://usendowmentblog.blogspot.com/ -- or the "Building" tab on the website.
June 17, 2011 -- Endowment Releases Report on State of Watershed Payment Programs
Carlton Owen, President of the Endowment, noted that the work is the result of the first collaboration with the USDA Office of Environmental Markets with the work being conducted by EcoAgriculture Partners. "We are very pleased with this foundational work that comes in two parts." said Owen. "The report provides a good state-of-the-practice for watershed payments projects across the U.S., while the accompanying geospacial map of projects allows on-going updating opportunities."
EcoAgriculture's work identified thirty-two innovative payments for watershed service models across the country--driven by both public and private sector buyers. These models form the basis for the report's examination of the current state of projects in the U.S., future possibilities for these incentive mechanisms, and recommendations for expanding the reach of these conservation programs. While the scale of these emerging segments of practices remains small relative to more established conservation mechanisms, such as conservation easements and Farm Bill conservation programs, the diversity of cases suggests that these new models have wide applicability and potential for scaling-up.
June 16, 2011 -- Softwood Lumber Producers Approve First-Ever National Check-off
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced that domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber have voted to approve the formation of a softwood lumber research and promotion program. AMS held a referendum from May 23 to June 10, 2011, to determine whether to implement the Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order. In the final tally, 67% of voters, representing 80% of the volume, supported implementing the program.
"We applaud the forest products industry for taking a bold step to help grow markets for sustainably-produced softwood products," said U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) President Carlton Owen. "Study of widely successful check-off models used by many sectors of the agricultural community was among the first Endowment-sponsored initiatives to help advance our vision for America's working forests."
The Endowment funded work in early 2008 that led to the report, "Commodity 'Check-Off': The Potential for North American Softwood Lumber." That report then was used as the basis to impanel the Blue Ribbon Commission on Softwood Lumber Check-off, comprised of 21 forest industry leaders from across the continent. The Commission drafted the check-off order, worked with USDA to develop the referendum, and advocated its adoption.
May 6, 2011 -- Endowment Names former Ambassador as Outside Counsel
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced that it has engaged former U.S. Ambassador, David H. Wilkins, as outside general counsel. "When our current counsel opted to step aside for personal health reasons, we immediately spoke to David Wilkins about his interest in working with the Endowment," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We can't think of anyone with deeper background, understanding, and interest in the important work of the Endowment, or with greater credibility and relevant experience. It's a perfect fit and we are so glad that he shared our interest in collaborating."
Wilkins is a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, one of the nation's top law firms, with offices in Greenville, SC; Washington, DC, and beyond. Since the Endowment's inception in September 2006, legal support had been provided by the Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis firm of Jackson, Mississippi, with partner David Grishman serving as principal. At its April 2011 Board of Directors meeting in Dallas, Texas, the Endowment Board expressed appreciation to Mr. Grishman for his dedicated service to the organization. At that same meeting the Board cast a unanimous vote to engage Ambassador Wilkins and Nelson Mullins. Mr. Wilkins' service to the Endowment begins immediately.
May 5, 2011 -- Initiative Overviews Put Programmatic Work in Context
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released a series of "Endowment Initiative Overviews." "As part of our commitment to transparency and in an effort to share learnings from our work with others who are interested, we developed these documents to put our programmatic work in context of our 'Theory of Change'," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. The initial six publications in the series provide an up-to-date look at current investments while also serving to deepen understanding of the organization's evolving approach to achieving its mission.
May 5, 2011 -- Endowment and State Foresters Launch "Issues in the Forest" Series
Torrefied wood may be an excellent companion to coal as utilities across the nation seek ways to increase the use of renewable energy sources and reduce their carbon footprint. The first in a series of co-branded briefs,Issues in the Forest, produced jointly by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and National Association of State Foresters (NASF) provides a solid overview of where torrefaction technology stands and who's pursuing it.
Issues in the Forest is aimed at informing dialogue on topics relevant to sustainable forestry today. "We hope the extensive research compressed into a one-page format will help keep our partners and other interested parties up-to-speed on fast moving and critical forestry topics," said Endowment President Carlton Owen.
The Endowment and U.S. Forest Service joined forces in early 2010 through a pilot effort called the Woody Biomass Joint Venture to focus on promising technologies and new procurement model development. Rapid learning and communication for the broader forestry and biomass energy development communities was one targeted outcome for that collaboration.
This year NASF joined in to help build awareness of the effort as well as expand it beyond woody biomass for heat and energy to a range of topics influencing forest management and policy. "State Foresters know that keeping forests as forests requires not only traditional markets but new markets like biomass energy, green building materials and forest certification standards," said NASF Executive Director Jay Farrell. "Tracking policy implications and public perceptions on issues that impact healthy markets will be helpful for all forestry advocates."
Sign up to receive Issues in the Forest through the Endowment's listserv via the Home Page or follow the Woody Biomass Joint Venture on Facebook.
March 31, 2011 -- USDA Plan to Promote use of Green Building and Wood to Keep Forests as Forests
Last evening before a star-studded crowd representing the who's who of forests in the U.S., Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack went where none of his predecessors had ever gone.Using the launch of the United Nation's International Year of Forests 2011 as backdrop, Vilsack committed the USDA Forest Service and the entire USDA to "preferentially select wood in new building construction, increase commitment to research and development around green building products, and demonstrate innovative uses of wood as a green building material."
"Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials.Forest Service studies show that wood compares favorably to competing materials," said Vilsack. "In keeping with the Obama Administration's America's Great Outdoors conservation agenda, USDA has made a strong commitment to conserving and restoring our forests to protect watersheds, recreation, and rural jobs."
"As a relatively new entrant to the field of sustainable forestry and needs of rural forest-reliant communities, we at the Endowment applaud the Secretary's vision and commitment to reaffirm the leadership on forestry and forest products issues that has made the Forest Service the envy of the world over for more than a century," said Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen.The Endowment already has number of strong partnerships with the Forest Service on issues as wide-ranging as biotechnology and the potential to advance forest health to a joint venture on uses of woody biomass to keep forests as forests through markets while creating family-supporting jobs.The work the Endowment has pioneered on USDA Research and Promotion programs (commodity check-offs) if adopted by the forest industry, will offer a sea change opportunity to turn the Secretary's vision into reality.
March 21, 2011 -- Endowment Elects Datan to Board of Directors
What do Amazon rainforests and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) have in common? Tamar Datan. Datan, Executive Vice President of the Virginia-based Amazon Conservation Team, has been unanimously elected to a position on the Endowment's Board of Directors effective April 1, 2011.
"We couldn't be more pleased that someone with Tamar's diverse and rich set of skills and experiences has agreed to serve on the Endowment's Board," said Mack Hogans, Chairman of the Board. "She brings much to our important work."
Datan is being elected to an unexpired term for a position being vacated by Dr. David Thorud of Seattle, Washington. Thorud, a charter member of the Endowment's Board of Directors and Chairman of the Governance and Nominating Committee, announced his plans to retire from what the Endowment's Board agrees is distinguished service effective, April 1, 2011.
"I am excited about joining the Endowment in its efforts to advance healthy working forests and the needs of rural forest-reliant communities across America," said Datan. "While my work in recent years has focused on the Amazon, I continue to live in the U.S. and I have long held an abiding passion for all things rural. I especially appreciate the Endowment's approach to seek solutions that engage the public, private and philanthropic sectors in addressing the complex challenges facing rural America." (Click to See Full Release).
February 17, 2011 -- Annual Report for Calendar Year 2010 Released
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released copies of its Annual Report 2010. "Given that the United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests, we opted to have our 2010 Annual Report do double-duty," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We not only highlighted the state of our work but decided to help draw attention to the importance of America's forests as part of the global celebration." Individual copies of the report have been sent to every member of the U.S. Congress as well as other key leaders in the forestry and rural development sectors. By using the imbedded live links, digital copies in either color or black & white are available to any with interest.
February 7, 2011 -- Endowment Seeks to Aid Hardwood Industry in Plan for Growth
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today announced that it is partnering with an ad-hoc group of U.S. hardwood industry leaders operating as the "Blue Ribbon Committee on Hardwood Check-off" (BRC) to seek formal approval of a commodity marketing program for a range of hardwood and plywood products. "Simply stated, the Endowment is about sustaining America's working forests and advancing family-supporting jobs in forest-reliant rural communities," says Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We can think of no better way to advance our mission than to ensure that America's forest landowners -- both public and private -- have robust markets for their trees and that we retain and grow a healthy forest products industry that can provide those jobs. Check-off programs are tools that can advance both."
"The American hardwood industry is comprised of literally thousands of small- to medium-sized operations scattered across all forested regions of the U.S.," said Ted Rossi of Rossi Lumber Group and Co-Chair of the BRC. "Our diverse industry produces some of the most beautiful and desirable wood products available, but we've never mounted a sustained research, education, and promotion program to ensure that consumers are armed with sound information about the many performance, environmental, and economic benefits they provide. A hardwood check-off program will be a game-changer for our future." [To view the full release]
January 25, 2011 -- Endowment Expands Healthy Watersheds Work
In its landmark report, "Private Forests, Public Benefits" the USDA Forest Service identified the 15 watersheds across the nation most threatened by increased housing development. "When we studied that report we were surprised to find that our own headquarters based in Greenville, SC, sat in the middle of the watershed rated as the 10th most threatened -- the Saluda-Reedy watershed," said U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) President Carlton Owen.
In keeping with its broader, "Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative," the Endowment announced a small, but targeted investment matching a grant provided by the Land Trust Alliance to support work at Greenville-based Upstate Forever. The Clean Water Credits for Conservation project aims to develop and pilot a cost-effective program to protect and enhance private, working forest and agricultural lands while providing sustainable supplies of clean water in the Saluda-Reedy watershed. Endowment Senior Vice President Peter Stangel, who leads the organization's watersheds initiatives, notes that meanwhile, the Clean Water Credits project will become a candidate for inclusion in another project under the Endowment's watersheds initiative -- "Scoping Payments for Watershed Services with Agricultural and Forest Landowners in the U.S."
The "scoping" project, funded by the USDA Office of Environmental Markets and the Endowment is led by Washington, DC-based EcoAgriculture Partners. It is designed to inventory all payments for watershed services projects nationwide. EcoAgriculture Partners is entering into the final stages of its work and has requested assistance from anyone aware of payments for watershed services projects anywhere in the U.S. To learn more see: Scoping Payment.
January 4, 2011 -- Endowment Announces Initial Plans for International Year of Forests
The United Nations (UN) has designated 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYOF). "We think the UN is right on target," says Endowment President Carlton Owen, "given the important role that forests play in all aspects of life...especially here in the U.S." The Endowment will be joining in the celebration in a number of ways. The organization dedicated its first blog of 2011 (http://usendowmentblog.blogspot.com/) to IYOF and will use its 2010 Annual Report -- due out in early February -- as a means to showcase programmatic activities and works that celebrate America's diverse working forests.
January 3, 2011 -- Project to Scope Water Projects Across Nation
Since launching its Healthy Forests; Healthy Watersheds Initiative in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in early 2010, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) has been studying and investing more deeply in the potential of water as an environmental market to advance forest health and retention. "One of our most difficult challenges in digging into the topic of water was getting a handle on what is already happening," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "After much searching we determined that there wasn't a good base line of information," he said. That finding led the Endowment to enter into a partnership with the USDA Office of Environmental Markets in a project to "scope the state" of water-based environmental markets projects across the U.S. EcoAgriculture Partners, a Washington, DC-based not-for-profit, is developing the information that should be available in early spring. "We know that others will greatly benefit from this assessment," said Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President of the Endowment. "There is nothing more time consuming and wasteful than doing a background review of basic information only to learn that others have done the same thing but the information was not made publicly available."
December 9, 2010 -- Endowment Celebrates Launch of ShadeFundTM
A vision that the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and its partner The Conservation Fund have been working on for many months got a kick-start today as Mercedes-Benz USA announced the first corporate investment in ShadeFundTM. "Since our inception we’ve been committed to finding new vehicles to advance sustainable management of the nation’s working forests and increasing family-supporting jobs in rural communities," said Endowment President & CEO Carlton Owen. "ShadeFund is an adaptation of microfinance models deployed in developing countries to capitalize community-based entrepreneurship. ShadeFund deploys this capacity across America," he continued.
ShadeFund will be administered by The Conservation Fund to spur a greener economy by providing financial resources to entrepreneurs and innovators who use natural resources creatively and responsibly. The Endowment took lessons from successful organizations such as Kiva and Donors Choose to get capital into the hands of local businesses. The Endowment’s Board of Directors made a $1 million grant to The Conservation Fund to research, build and manage what has become ShadeFund. "We couldn’t be more pleased that a global icon like Mercedes-Benz would become the inaugural sponsor of the program by investing in 10-12 Mercedes-Benz Signature ShadeFund Entrepreneurs," said Owen. The first two investments in the program are Connecticut-based City Bench (www.city-bench.com) and Bluebird Hill Farm (http://bluebirdhillfarm.net) of North Carolina. (click here to read the full release)