Build It With Wood, Climate-Smart Commodities, Landowner Outreach

First Commercial Landowners Join New Climate-Smart Forestry Initiative

Jul. 11, 2024

A Pioneering Program From New England Forestry Foundation, USDA Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership

New England Forestry Foundation Photo By: Lauren Owens Lambert

New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) has selected six landowners to pilot climate-smart forestry practices on commercial lands under NEFF’s $30-million USDA Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership Project. Robbins Lumber Company, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, The Baskahegan Company, Fallen Timber LLC, Clayton Lake Woodlands and Seven Islands Land Company will receive incentives that support a range of climate-smart forestry practices designed to increase carbon in the forest and in resulting wood products.

“We are ready to roll up our sleeves and test on-the-ground forestry approaches to build a better understanding of the enormous carbon drawdown potential of New England’s forests,” said Robert Perschel, Executive Director of New England Forestry Foundation. “We’re excited to have such an engaged group of landowners and managers join us in piloting climate-smart forestry for the first round of our commercial landowner program.”

The six projects NEFF has selected will put climate-smart forestry on the ground across 12,000 acres of commercial forestland in Maine, with projects to be implemented in 2024 and 2025. The selection of these six landowners was based on an RFP process completed in early June. Additional rounds of commercial forestland project proposals will be solicited in 2025 and 2026. NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities project includes forestry incentive programs for commercial forestlands, defined by NEFF as lands that have more than 10,000 acres managed under one ownership; Tribal Nations forestlands; and smaller private forestland ownerships. Taken together, these incentive programs aim to enroll 66,000 acres of working forests.

NEFF staff have researched and defined a set of climate-smart forestry practices that are consistent with USDA program requirements. NEFF estimates that the acres enrolled in the first round of the Commercial Landowner Incentive Program have the potential to store an additional 250,000 MtonsCO2e as compared to current practices. These results will be tested and determined based on modeling that will be a key part of the project. This initial, directional estimate shows that over the coming decades, this additional carbon storage could offset the amount of carbon emitted from the energy used annually to heat and cool 23,000 homes.

This first phase of the program sought landowners interested in helping to inform overall program design and application of climate-smart forestry practices on commercial forestlands. NEFF will be working with program participants to define implementation guidelines, monitoring approaches, and other program elements.

NEFF and the landowners will work together to determine specific acres to be treated with climate-smart practices. On average, the managed area will be 2,000 acres per company. Incentive payments will be determined based on the forestry practices to be applied in each project. Note: While reading the following, it may be useful to consult NEFF’s forestry glossary.

  • Robbins Lumber Company is based in Searsmont, Maine and manages 30,000 acres of forestland in the Midcoast and Downeast regions. The company operates three sawmills that produce pine lumber. NEFF’s collaboration with Robbins Lumber will take place at their property near Nicatous Lake and will focus on pre-commercial thinning, early commercial thinning, crop tree release and timber stand improvement to grow high-grade white pine.
  • Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands manages 630,000 acres of working forests across the state, revenues from which help fund state parks and conservation efforts. NEFF will work with the Bureau on its lands near Round Pond and Telos Lake in northern Maine, where it will focus on pre-commercial thinning and early commercial thinning in dense young forests that were purchased by the state after spruce budworm infestation and clearcutting in the 1970s.
  • The Baskahegan Company is based in Brookton, Maine and has been managing 100,000 acres of forests Downeast for a century. NEFF will work with the company on early commercial thinning and crop tree release of northern hardwoods, and planting of spruce in understocked forest stands.
  • Fallen Timber LLC is a 481,000-acre forest ownership in northern Maine. NEFF will work with the company in its timberlands at Northeast Carry near Moosehead Lake to pre-commercially thin dense young softwood stands regenerating after clearcutting by previous owners.
  • Clayton Lake Woodlands manages around 323,000 acres in northern and eastern Maine. NEFF will work with the company in the Allagash River region on diverse climate-smart practices, including crop tree release of potential sawtimber trees and long-term retention of legacy trees for in-forest carbon storage.
  • Seven Islands Land Company manages 819,000 acres in northern and western Maine that have been in the Pingree family since 1841. NEFF and the company will design a diverse set of practices including crop tree release of northern hardwoods, pre- and early commercial thinning of spruce-fir stands and planting non-merchantable stands to spruce.

NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities project pilots the kind of forest management needed to realize the potential of New England’s forests to mitigate climate change through a holistic approach that can keep more than 646 million metric tons of CO2e out of the atmosphere over the next 30 years. This 30 Percent Solution, as researched by NEFF, shows that climate-smart forestry has the potential to store additional carbon representing nearly one-third of the total energy-related CO2 emissions reductions needed across New England by 2050.

In addition to incentivizing climate-smart forestry, NEFF’s Climate-Smart Commodities project will also enhance training for loggers and foresters and seek to build markets for climate-smart forest products with a focus on using mass timber construction from climate-smart sourced wood to build affordable housing. NEFF is also working to secure additional climate finance and funding from other sources, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to bring climate-smart forestry to scale across more than 10 million acres of working forestland across New England.

Reactions from Commercial Landowner Partners

“Robbins Lumber is honored to be awarded the NEFF Round 1 Design Phase RFP. Working with NEFF is a testament to our commitment to sustainable forestry and community stewardship. This recognition fuels our passion to continue pioneering environmentally responsible practices in the timber industry.”

Catherine Robbins-Halsted, Vice President of Administration, Robbins Lumber, Inc.

“Baskahegan knows how to grow trees, but there needs to be more clarity on how to grow, store, and use carbon from the Forest. NEFF’s program will help us understand how we can better meet the needs of the climate, while still staying in business and supporting our customers. Commodities by nature are driven by supply and demand. There is seldom consideration for external values like climate mitigation, unless it’s paid for. Forestry in Maine isn’t causing climate change, but we can help if there is a will. Baskahegan and its shareholders want to be part of a climate solution. NEFF has provided one of the few pathways to do that. We’re excited for the collaboration.”

Kyle Burdick, Vice President and Woodlands Manager, Baskahegan Company

“On behalf of our client, Clayton Lake Woodlands Holdings, LLC, LandVest is excited to have been selected for this project. We look forward to working with NEFF in developing new and improving current practices that will have climate and carbon related benefits.”

Eugene Mahar, Forest Resources Manager | Maine, LandVest

About the New England Forestry Foundation

Through the application of its core expertise in conserving forestlands and advancing Exemplary Forestry, the New England Forestry Foundation helps the people of New England to sustain their way of life, protect forest wildlife habitat and ecosystem services, and mitigate and adapt to climate change. In partnership with land owners, New England Forestry Foundation has conserved more than 1.2 million acres of forest since its founding in 1944, including one out of every three acres of forestland protected in New England since 1999. It also owns and manages more than 150 Community Forests across the region. For more information, visit

This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as part of the Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership project under agreement number NR233A750004G017. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender