May 23, 2018 -- Enviva Forest Conservation Fund Awards 2018 Grants
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund (the Fund) today announced the recipients of its 2018 suite of grants. The projects funded will help conserve a total of more than 5,000 acres, protecting ecologically sensitive bottomland forests in the coastal regions of Virginia and North Carolina.
“We are so proud to work with our conservation partners in the Virginia-North Carolina coastal plain, one of the most biodiverse and beautiful areas in the country,” said Enviva Chairman and CEO, John Keppler. “This work will lead to the protection of thousands of acres of sensitive forest lands and ensure that these forests provide ecosystem and economic benefits for generations to come.”
“In this third year of the Fund, I continue to be amazed at the caliber of organizations represented and the breadth and depth of conservation objectives reflected in these proposals,” said Endowment President and CEO, Carlton Owen. “These grants not only contribute to forest health and the restoration and conservation of habitats for innumerable species, but they also provide landowners with financially attractive alternatives to selling their land or converting it to non-forest uses.”
Including those announced today, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund has supported eleven projects totaling almost $1.5 million in grants. An estimated 15,500 acres will be protected when these projects reach completion. The forests conserved as a part of the Fund help clean drinking water, purify the air, buffer structures from storms, and provide habitat for many species of wildlife, while at the same time providing jobs and economic opportunity for rural families and private landowners.
One of the greatest challenges to sustaining the health of America’s forests is the problem of small-diameter, dying and dead trees for which in all-too-many places there are few if any markets. “Without economically viable markets, landowners (both public and private) are left with few options to manage their forests in ways that keep them healthy and thus mitigate against the chances of catastrophic loss from insects, diseases and wildfires,” says Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen.
The Endowment partnered with the USDA Forest Service in a two-state pilot effort (New Hampshire and Oregon) to determine if modest amounts of philanthropic and public capital could aid in attracting greater sums of private capital where the economics of conversions from fuel oil to wood waste would make a difference. While the partners were able to help advance worthy projects in both states, the modest amounts of seed capital available ($1.5 million across the two states), the need for a large number of like-kind projects ready for investment, and the one-off nature and long-lead times for wood-to-energy projects as compared with other types of energy facilities, contributed to falling short of desired outcomes.
May 22, 2018 -- Exploring Blockchain Technology As A Means To Address Wood Sources
Blockchain technology, also known as hyperledger fabric in one of its forms, has been frequently mentioned among the most important innovations of the 21st Century. While many have heard of blockchain in connection with cryptocurrency and its ability to provide secure and secret transactions, a mirror image of the technology allows unprecedented transparency and the ability to track transactions across complex value chains. In short, blockchain holds the potential to increase the accuracy of information while reducing costs of verifying transactions.
In late 2017 the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) began exploring the potential of blockchain as a cost-effective tool to track transactions in the global wood supply chain. If the technology can measure up to the “hype” in the “hyperledger” it might prove to be a tool in combatting illegal logging – a problem that robs private producers and governments of more than $15 billion annually. In a U.S.-only context it could provide a ready means to track the sourcing of trees from forests to manufacturing operations and then forest products ultimately to consumers providing assurance of conformance with legality and sustainability objectives.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” -- Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)
April 25, 2018 -- Grants to Accelerate Watershed Protection
The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program’s third-year of awards expands the pace of proactive watershed protection in the U.S. through conservation and improved stewardship of thousands of acres of lands that provide drinking water, flood risk reduction, and an array of economic and environmental benefits. The 22 awards total $4.168 million and will benefit organizations and partnerships in 20 states. The Heathy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program was conceived by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water (EPA) and launched in late 2015. EPA co-funds the program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), which manages the partnership.
“Protecting working lands and natural habitats in our watersheds is a win for people, the economy, and our environment,” said Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “There projects are developed at the local level; help protect drinking water sources; often benefit rural jobs associated with agriculture, ranching, and forestry; and provide measurable benefits for fish and wildlife. We are very grateful to EPA and NRCS for their partnership in this program. We are especially pleased that projects in the Chesapeake Bay, Florida, and Arizona support military installations and Sentinel Landscapes Partnerships. The latter brings together the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Interior to protect working lands important to our nation’s defense mission. ”
The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program’s goal is to “accelerate and expand the strategic protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds.” EPA and the Endowment each committed $3.75 million and NRCS $3.5 million, to the six-year partnership. In this third year of the program, 76 applications requesting $15 million were received.
Grants focus on three categories: 1) short-term funding to leverage larger financing for targeted watershed protection; 2) funds to help build the capacity of local organizations for sustainable, long-term watershed protection; and 3) new techniques or approaches that advance the state of practice for watershed protection and that can be replicated across the country. The awards listed below benefit natural lands and also working forests, farms, and ranches.
April 16, 2018 -- Additional Content Added to State of America’s Forests Website
Momentum continues to build on the successful State of America’s Forests platform as the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today released six new components on the interactive website, usaforests.org. These new topics include:
- trends in forestland area and ecological regions,
- forest ownership, tree growth, mortality, harvesting, and planting,
- communities at risk,
- forest fragmentation and housing development, and
- protected areas.
State of America’s Forests serves as an online portal where users can interactively explore and visually engage with the latest forest related data. “While there is a plethora of sources related to U.S. forests, this site allows for a quick and easy navigation of statistics, historic trends, threats, benefits, conditions, and related markets,” says Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen. All information included in the website is based on peer-reviewed studies and verified data.
April 4, 2018 -- Producer Decisions End Work on Wood Energy Check-Off
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) announced today that efforts to develop a USDA Research and Promotion Program (a.k.a. “check-off”) for the U.S. biomass power and wood energy pellet producers has ended.
“After more than three years of work and $500,000 in investment the decision to terminate work to aid America’s wood-to-energy sector for a sustained research and promotion program is a huge disappointment,” said Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen. “At the request of the industry, we’ve worked closely with representatives of three sub-sectors -- biomass power; domestic wood energy pellets; and export wood energy pellets – as convener and co-funder. Regrettably, a change of heart about timing and path forward by some of the largest producers made continuation impossible.”
The Endowment seeks to keep working forests as forests and advance family-wage jobs in forest-rich, rural communities in ways that ultimately support the North American forest industry. Since its creation the Endowment has taken the long-view and advocated sustainable pathways to enhance and grow benefits from forests. Whether to recognize water as a forest product of tremendous value or to retain traditional jobs in the lumber and paper sectors or to advance emerging sectors such as mass timbers or wood-to-energy, the Endowment promotes market-based means to advance its objectives.
March 22, 2018 -- United Nation's World Water Day 2018
Benjamin Franklin wisely noted, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” In less than 90 days a city of nearly four million people could be without fresh water. That city, Cape Town, South Africa, is surrounded by the ocean yet suffers from an extended drought that has all but exhausted its potable water supply. Could that happen in the U.S.? Recall Atlanta? Just over a decade ago that great southern city faced a similar water crisis.
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) is celebrating World Water Day by convening nearly 50 watershed protection experts from across the country to acknowledge successes and address future challenges in an effort to plan for the inevitable – a time when many areas “outgrow” or face life without a dependable water supply. The event is the first gathering of grantees for the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program, a partnership that is co-funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“An estimated two-thirds of the fresh water in the U.S. originates in a forested watershed,” notes Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “Healthy, well-managed forests produce cleaner, more reliable water flows, reducing drinking water treatment, transportation, and storage costs.”
March 6, 2018 -- Report Recaps Successful “Braided” Approach to Scientific Advances for Forest Health
The report “Forest Health Initiative: A Retrospective Look” released today by the Forest Health Initiative (FHI) provides insight into and describes outcomes of a ground-breaking multi-year project that set out to better understand the potential, value and role of modern biotechnology in addressing some of today’s most pressing forest health issues. Launched in 2009, FHI is a collaborative effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS), the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), and Duke Energy designed to plumb the potential of genetically modifying trees to make them more resistant to threats, while concurrently assessing relevant societal and regulatory issues.
“Forests are being lost at an alarming rate due to devastating insect and disease infestations and we don’t have the luxury of time that affords using only 20th century tools to deal with 21st century challenges,” said Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen. “FHI allowed us to bring together public and private scientists, conservationists, non-profits and the private sector to confront these threats and advance systemic, transformative and sustainable change for America’s forests.”
February 19, 2018 -- Enviva Forest Conservation Fund Helps with Acquisition of Notable NC Landscape
Protection of a key forest for the benefit of future generations was made possible by a $195,000 grant from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund (the Fund). That funding leveraged another $800,000 in external funding, which allowed The Nature Conservancy to purchase property in Washington County, North Carolina, near the town of Plymouth. The 1,294 tract of cypress-tupelo swamps and stands of Atlantic white cedar located near the mouth of the Albemarle Sound creates a unique landscape with high ecological and conservation value.
The Nature Conservancy began a long-term conservation program in the area in 1982, known as the Roanoke River Project. Through the Project, The Nature Conservancy and partners have helped protect over 94,000 acres the Lower Roanoke River basin. This 1,294-acre parcel is one of the last unprotected areas near the mouth of the river; it is connected to The Nature Conservancy’s Roanoke Preserve and is across from the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge, making it a highly desirable addition to the overall Roanoke River Conservation Plan. This property is among a large expanse of protected, un-fragmented floodplain forest that spans the lower 20 miles of the Lower Roanoke River.
“A key facet of good environmental stewardship is restoring and sustaining connectivity between protected areas and our critical resources,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which administers the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. “The Roanoke River basin contains significant ecological value and we are excited to be a part of its long-term conservation.”
Feburary 15, 2018 -- State of America’s Forests Adds Interactive Content to Website
Building on the successful launch of State of America’s Forests in December of 2017, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today released three new packets of content on the interactive website, www.usaforests.org. The new topics include: forest insects and diseases; invasive plants; and invasive animals.
These topics address some of the myriad challenges that face our nation’s forests and focus on potential solutions to these widespread problems.
State of America’s Forests, an online multimedia guide, helps users explore the many benefits forests provide, understand challenges facing this renewable resource, and learn about forest management and conservation. Based on peer-reviewed studies and verified data, the first two modules touched on fire in our forests and the role forests play in providing clean water.
February 13, 2018 -- Drinking Water Protected through Utility Rate Program
When an entire city relies on drinking water from one reservoir, that resource should be actively protected. An impact report released today by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) highlights a creative approach to protection in Raleigh, North Carolina. The report features the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (Initiative), a dynamic partnership between Raleigh Public Utilities, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC), and other partners. The program was supported in part by an award from the Endowment and the federal USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Forested areas across the country act as natural filtration systems for community water supplies; forests provide clean drinking water for nearly two-thirds of the American population. With the rapid increase in urbanization in many areas, however, this natural process of purification is being threatened by encroaching development and dwindling forest filters.
Some communities have decided to be proactive about the problem. The City of Raleigh, for example, has placed a high priority on protection of the Upper Neuse Basin, home to the Falls Lake Reservoir. The Reservoir acts as the main water supply for the City, which has a service population of 560,000 people. In recent decades, the Reservoir has faced increasing levels of runoff from development, threatening the quality of Raleigh’s water supply. Recognizing that forested watersheds are a natural solution to this threat, the City joined together with various partners to actively protect the Upper Neuse Basin.
February 2, 2018 -- Working with Nature to Further a Forest-Centric Mission
Leveraging lessons from the natural world can lead to more efficient and impactful work for a non-profit tasked with advancing stewardship of North America’s working forests. That’s the thesis behind the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ (Endowment) 2017 Annual Report, Working with Nature.Touching on natural concepts such as biomimicry and environmental adaptation, the report examines accomplishments over the year.
“With this year’s Annual Report, we hope to provide a visually compelling story about our work and the landscapes and communities we touch,” says Carlton Owen, Endowment President & CEO. “We hope our partners—both those who share in funding the work and those who are doing the work on the ground—gain the reader’s appreciation for all they are doing for forests and the rural communities nested within them.”
We at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) hope you will join us as we celebrate World Wetlands Day 2018! This day is set aside as an annual celebration marking the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands signed February 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. World Wetlands Day is intended to raise awareness of the invaluable role wetlands play in our lives everyday. From habitats for a variety of fish and wildlife species, to natural filters of our drinking water and protection of shorelines against storms, wetlands serve vitally important roles for both people and the environment. The Endowment applauds the efforts of public and private organizations around the world working tirelessly to protect these natural treasures. This year we want to especially express appreciation to our friends at Enviva and the many conservation partners in North Carolina and Virginia who are helping to make the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund part of the global wetland protection effort. In just its first two years the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund has helped local partners advance seven projects that when completed will protect more than 10,000 acres of sensitive wetland forests.
Janurary 31, 2018 -- Triangle Land Conservancy Protects Priority Lands in Wake County, North Carolina
An additional 133 acres of land, including critical hardwood bottomland forest, will be protected in perpetuity thanks to a conservation easement on the property partially funded by the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund (the Fund). The Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) was instrumental in securing the priority landscape in the Raleigh area.
Referred to as the Beaverdam Lake property, the tract has been identified as a priority area in Neuse River Corridor Plans and the Capital Area Greenway Plan. The lake, surrounding wetlands, and forest serve as a filter before the water reaches the Neuse River which functions as a drinking water resource for the town of Clayton and Johnston County. The majority of the property will be protected by a water quality buffer including the lake, stream buffers, wetlands, and bottomland forests.
“Most land owners care deeply about their connection to the land and value the benefits they provide, such as clean water and wildlife habitat,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which administers the Fund. “This easement permanently protects bottomland forests and a lake within minutes of an urban setting. The generosity of the landowners, accompanied by a grant from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, will allow for the values inherent to a pristine ecosystem to be recognized now and for future generations.”
Janurary 10, 2018 -- How Forests Make Our Lives Better
“If we are going to keep forests as forests, we must respect and value them. We must ensure markets for wood and wood products. And invest in and support vital research and conservation.” This central message and many others come to life in a new “white board” animation produced on behalf of the North American Forest Partnership (NAFP). The animation tracks the myriad ways in which trees and forests enhance our lives from providing resources for our homes and our environments to serving as habitat for the natural world. NAFP will produce a series of similar white board animations related to other aspects of our nation’s forest resources as part of a larger messaging campaign. The video conveys that, “For all the forest gives us, we must all nurture it in exchange, working together as responsible stewards, planting and renewing after harvest, and using every last part-from root to branch to leaf to bark—always innovating.” NAFP includes over 110 member investors from conservation organizations to trade associations and from universities to family landholders. To learn more, visit walkinthewoodswith.us.
January 4, 2018 -- Virginia Department of Forestry Teams with the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund to Secure Ecologically-Important Easement in Virginia
The headwaters of Otterdam Swamp and Three Creek are closer to long-term protection via a working forest conservation easement on forestlands in the region. The easement is made possible through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. Permanent protection of the property—totaling 1,079 acres—includes mature cypress/tupelo forest and will contribute to the habitat of 29 species of plants and animals and protect a major tributary of the Nottoway River and the Three Creek Stream Conservation Unit.
The property is currently held by Family Tree Properties, LLC. Steve Wagner, managing member of Family Tree Properties, stated “This is a unique tract rich in lowland timber and diverse aquatic species. Learning there is a colony of a rare plant that exists nowhere else in Virginia made this an easy decision. We are thrilled to protect all of it for future generations.” His partner, Adrian Holler, shared “It has been great to work with the Virginia Department of Forestry and we want to thank Enviva for their generous financial assistance without which this conservation easement would not have been possible.”
“Finding opportunities that can support working forests and protect highly valued conservation land is dependent on the willingness of private landowners to recognize the connection between good stewardship practices and sound asset management,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which administers the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. “We find that most landowners are good stewards of their properties and then in cases like this one, they fall into the ‘great stewards’ category.”