Ben Pearson

Climate-Smart Commodities

Commercial Landowner Enrollment

Climate-Smart Forestry Incentive Program for Commercial Landowners

As part of our $30 million Climate-Smart Commodities project, New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) is soliciting proposals from commercial forest landowners interested in piloting the implementation of climate-smart forestry practices with the intention of improving forest health and productivity.

Request for Proposals and the Practical Details

NEFF has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting commercial forest landowners across New England to participate in the first round or Design Phase of the program. The Design Phase RFP defines large commercial landowners as those owning 10,000 or more acres, and solicits projects involving approximately 300-2,000 acres of land. Overall, this program will provide approximately $10.5 million in climate-smart forestry incentives on commercial forestlands across the region. These funds will be awarded based on three rounds of projects, with RFPs issued on the following approximate schedule, to be adjusted as needed: April 2024 for the Design Phase and then early in 2025 and 2026.

Application Deadline for 2024 RFP: June 7, 2024

The Design Phase

The goal of the Design Phase is to develop, test and refine the program, and this initial round will specifically help test NEFF’s approach to the design of our incentives for landowners; refine the climate-smart forest practices landowners will implement; and inform the measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification work needed to track and model carbon and ecological outcomes of the program.

NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities team intends for the first round of projects to address the following components of the incentive program, with participants selected in part for their willingness to participate in the Design Phase.

  • Forestry Practices and Forest Types: Landowners who demonstrate several of the qualifying forest practices across a range of forest types and stand conditions to maximize the information to be gained from this first round of projects.
  • Modeling: Landowners who will collaborate with NEFF and its partner organizations on designing, testing, and conducting relevant modeling work.
  • MMRV: Landowners with whom NEFF can develop and test the measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification systems needed to assess the carbon outcomes associated with the program.
  • Incentive Design: Landowners NEFF can involve in a collaborative process to design the incentive program, including cost per forest-management practice, contract design, and interface with loggers and foresters for incentive payments.
  • Incentives and Trainings for Loggers and Foresters: Landowners who support engagement of foresters and loggers trained and/or certified in applying climate-smart forest practices.

The NEFF team will use lessons learned from the Design Phase to shape the next two larger rounds of commercial climate-smart forestry incentives within our overall Climate-Smart Commodities project.

Q&As

If you have questions about elements of this RFP, please send them to Catrina Vear at cvear@newenglandforestry.org. You can also contact other members of the project team if you choose. In all cases, questions asked and answers provided will be posted here as publicly available information.

Administrative FAQs

Why do I need to establish records with USDA Farm Service Agency?

NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities, Large Commercial Forest Landowner Incentive Program is funded through the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. For landowners to receive funds, it is mandatory for them to establish records with USDA Farm Service Agency.

What if I already have records with USDA Farm Service Agency?

We will need to verify that your records cover the area where you plan to implement Climate-Smart Forestry practices. If they do, then you do not need to reestablish records.

When should I establish records with USDA Farm Service Agency?

Applicants should establish records after they are chosen for NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities Large Commercial Forest Landowner Incentive Program: Round 1 Design Phase. Applicants only need to establish records on the land where Climate-Smart Forestry practices are being implemented.

Are there instructions for filling out the CCC-901 Worksheet?

Yes, the instructions can be found by clicking the following button.

What other information do I need to provide to establish records with USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) for the CSC grant?

You need to fill out two worksheets to establish records with USDA Farm Service Agency. 1) AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetalnd Conservation (WC) Certification. Please see the following instructions for establishing records with USDA FSA.

How does the USDA Farm Service Agency protect personal information provided on the CCC-901 worksheet?

NEFF has asked USDA Farm Service Agency to provide details on how personal information provided on the CCC-901 is kept confidential and whether is exempt from a FOIA request. We will post what we learn as it comes to NEFF from USDA.

General FAQs for Commercial Landowners

What is the expected distribution of money/enrolled acres across the three rounds of funding for the large commercial landowners?

We have not set specific dollar or acreage targets for each round, but we expect the first (Design Phase) round to be smaller than the two following rounds.

What scale of projects is ideal for the first round/subsequent rounds? Is there an upper limit on the number of acres to include in proposals for the first round?

We are looking for projects that address hundreds to low thousands of acres for the first round. We will provide further guidance ahead of future rounds, once we have learned from the Design Phase round. We anticipate subsequent rounds to allow for larger projects.

Are you looking for maximum carbon benefits or a distribution of projects? If one project was clearly better than all others, would you spend all the money on that project?

Because this is a design round, we are looking to fund projects across a range of geographical areas, forest types, forest conditions, and practices. We do not anticipate allocating all of the funds in one round on a single proposal. Overall, we seek to balance the expected climate benefits with the desire to trial this approach in a diversity of situations.

When do you expect to decide on the first round of proposals?

Responses to this RFP are due June 7, 2024. Evaluation of proposals and decisions will be made within approximately one month or around July 10, 2024.

Are you looking for a lifecycle analysis of the wood products (to include trucking and equipment emissions, etc.)?

We do not expect landowners to conduct an analysis of greenhouse gas outcomes by themselves. Any data or assistance that landowners or managers can provide NEFF and its partners/subcontractors to support the measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas outcomes from project activities is welcome and will be considered as part of applications for this RFP. Especially for the Design Phase round, willingness and capacity to collaborate on measurement ad modeling will be considered in proposal evaluation.

What kind of ongoing monitoring is expected after practices are implemented?

For this RFP, the details of the measurement and monitoring protocols will be worked out collaboratively by NEFF and the landowner/manager. A pre-treatment inventory will be required to demonstrate that the proposed practices are applicable for the proposed area. A post-treatment inventory of the treated area will also be required in order to verify that practices were implemented to the specifications agreed upon and to provide data for modeling of future carbon benefits. NEFF will not require ongoing monitoring beyond these two inventories, but applicants are encouraged to propose ways they can contribute to NEFF’s efforts to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of this program, including through ongoing monitoring where practicable.

One Piece of the Puzzle

NEFF is running its incentive program for family forest owners in four states with American Forest Foundation through its Family Forest Carbon Program, will launch an incentive program for smaller-acreage landowners in southern New England in fall 2024, and our Tribal Nations incentive program has begun and will unfold through 2024.

However, the Climate-Smart Commodities project doesn’t just work with landowners—we’re also building market demand for climate-smart forest products; providing climate-smart forestry incentives and training to foresters and loggers; and engaging in monitoring, verification, and reporting to document and ensure the project’s additive carbon benefit.

This pilot project is a key first step for NEFF’s 30 Percent Solution, which aims to fully leverage regional forests in the fight against climate change, including by significantly expanding the use of NEFF’s own approach to climate-smart forestry, Exemplary Forestry. This solution could pull enough CO2 from the atmosphere to provide 30 percent of the emissions reductions we need to meet the region’s net-zero goals.

Nelson’s trails at dawn, Twolined Studio