New England Forestry Foundation
Lauren Owens Lambert

Climate Initiatives

Climate-Smart Commodities

New England Forestry Foundation and partners have kicked off a $30-million initiative to help forest landowners implement climate-smart forest practices and build markets for climate-smart forest products. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities award.

Climate-Smart Commodities Overview

NEFF is leading a five-year pilot project that is organized around three broad goals and areas of work:

  • Climate-smart forestry incentives for practices that store more carbon in working forests for a group of forest landowners across all six New England states, including on large commercial forests, smaller family woodlots and Tribal Nations woodlands
  • Market-building for climate-smart forest products, with a focus on mass timber construction
  • Monitoring, verification, and reporting to document and ensure additive carbon benefit

In balance with wildlands, NEFF will work to leverage the USDA’s generous investment to accomplish its 30 Percent Solution, which calls for significantly expanding the use of NEFF’s own approach to climate-smart forestry—Exemplary Forestry—across the managed portion of the 32 million acres of forestland that spans New England, which makes this pilot project both an important first step and an opportunity to gather lessons learned—and carry them with us from the pilot to this wider landscape.

Downeast Maine forestlands/Michael Perlman

How the Program Works

Formally titled the New England Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership, the project is split into three key goals and areas of work, and will ultimately implement and demonstrate the impact of climate-smart forestry on 66,000 acres. It includes more than 20 partner companies, organizations, and institutions from across New England that represent forest-related industries and have climate interests at the forefront of their concerns.

A diverse group of partners are working together across the region to implement the program as specialty teams bring their expertise to bear on the more technical aspects of the partnership. A full list of partners is available at the bottom of the page.


A pilot group of New England forest landowners, foresters and loggers will receive climate-smart forestry incentives for practices that store more carbon in working forests, for the range of forestlands and landowners mentioned earlier.

This facet of the program stems from NEFF’s long experience in engaging with family and commercial landowners, which has revealed they are ready to enhance their forest practices if the right incentives are in place to make the economics work. NEFF’s calculations also indicate offering financial incentives for improved forestry is a very efficient and cost-effective way to mitigate climate change compared to technology-based carbon-capture approaches.

Enrollment information for producers participating in NEFF’s New England Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership program will be made available as the program launches. Please revisit this page for updates and enrollment information as it becomes available. Updates:

  • In Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, NEFF is now running its incentive program for family forest owners in partnership with American Forest Foundation through its Family Forest Carbon Program.
  • An incentive program for smaller-acreage forest landowners in southern New England will launch in fall 2024.
  • The Tribal Nations incentive program has begun and will unfold through 2024.
  • The first of three phases of NEFF’s climate-smart forestry incentive program for commercial landowners is underway, and NEFF issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting commercial forest landowners across New England to participate. NEFF will announce the landowners selected to participate in late June 2024.
Building Markets for Mass Timber

The project will encourage the expansion of mass timber construction with a focus on affordable housing. Project partners will work on outreach to affordable housing agencies across the region, engage with mass timber developers and architects, and develop mass timber design specifications for a multi-family affordable housing unit, and more. NEFF will focus on ensuring the material going into new affordable housing comes from well-managed, climate-smart forests. To accomplish this, NEFF will develop climate-smart wood sourcing criteria, protocol, and supply chain tracking that can be inserted into existing green building programs.

Monitoring and Verification

NEFF’s forestry and climate experts are confident the organization’s forestry approaches will store more carbon in the forest and produce more renewable climate-smart products, but everyone involved in the USDA program has to prove these practices work over time. To do so, NEFF and the partner organizations who have signed on to help with this part of the program will define how to verify that carbon is captured and stored from both improved forest management and mass timber construction.

A project team is prepared to conduct detailed tracking and modeling work to verify that practices are conducted as planned and predict how much carbon will be there in future decades. NEFF will bring all its forestry expertise to bear, and take advantage of new research that describes the benefits of building with wood and substituting wood for other more carbon intensive materials.

Additional Resources

Get an in-depth look at NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities project by watching recordings of past webinars. NEFF held a kick-off webinar in June 2023 titled, “Introducing NEFF’s Climate-Smart Forestry Partnership: A Win for the Forests, Climate, and Communities of New England.” NEFF staff followed up a year later with, “NEFF Climate-Smart Commodities Webinar: Update & Input Session.”

Watch the 2023 webinar, watch the 2024 webinar, and view and download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentations below.

A Powerful Tool

Building a Sustainable Future With Mass Timber

Learn how sustainable wood produced by climate-smart management approaches like NEFF’s Exemplary Forestry make mass timber a particularly powerful tool in the fight against climate change. Viewers can also discover how mass timber is assembled, and how it stores carbon.

Project Partners

This USDA program called for project proposals from partnerships, and finding and connecting with the right New England Climate-Smart Commodities Forest Partnership participants has been one of the most impactful parts of this process for NEFF staff members. Every partner to join in has only made the project stronger and NEFF’s understanding of the pilot’s potential richer.

  • Commodity Markets
  • Landowners, Foresters, Loggers
  • Program Administration
  • Supporters
  • Spiritos Properties, LLC (Mass Timber Developer)
  • Leers Weinzapfel Associates (Architects)
  • Quantified Ventures (Finance)
  • WoodWorks (Mass Timber)

Participating Producers

  • Seven Islands
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • Wagner Forest Management, Ltd.
  • Baskahegan Land Company
  • Robbins Lumber
  • Passamaquoddy Forestry Department
  • Mi’kmaq Nation
  • The Nature Conservancy (Maine lands)
  • Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership
  • Massachusetts Tree Farm Program
  • Hull Forestlands, L.P.
  • Heyes Family Forests LLC
  • Appalachian Mountain Club

Participating Loggers & Foresters

  • Professional Logging Contractors Maine
  • Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands
  • Professional foresters & loggers

University of Maine Assistance With Program Design and Implementation

  • University of Maine Advisors: Dr. John Daigle, Liaison to Maine’s Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Mi’kmaq Nation
  • University of Maine Advanced Structures & Composites Center
  • Forest Policy & Economics – School of Forest Resources
  • School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute
  • Office of Innovation and Economic Development

Monitoring, Verification & Reporting

  • American Forest Foundation – Family Forest Carbon Program
  • Spatial Informatics Group
  • Thomas Walker, Resource Economist
  • Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, LLC

Supporting Organizations

  • Forest Stewards Guild
  • Mass Audubon
  • Our Climate Common
  • Highstead Foundation
  • Massachusetts Forest Alliance
  • Connecticut Forest & Park Association