Scientists been clear that in order to prevent some of the runaway effects of climate change, it’s not enough to simply reduce our dependence on fossil-fuels: we also have to draw down and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Radically shifting the way we use and manage land is integral in tackling the climate crisis, and the choices we make around forest management offer significant potential to mitigate global climate change and biodiversity loss.
Forests cover about 31% of Earth’s global land area, and a quarter of them lie in the temperate zone (mostly in the Northern Hemisphere). Today, 99% of temperate forests have been altered in some way—timbered, converted to agriculture, or disrupted by development. Project Drawdown considers temperate forest restoration to be a high priority given its impressive sequestration potential and numerous co-benefits. Temperate forest restoration ranks as the 12th most effective and viable solution to achieving carbon drawdown goals.
The coastal temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They are globally unique in their capacity to capture and store immense amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Pacific Northwest forests, known for red cedar, redwood, and spruce tree species, have been widely degraded by clear cutting and the introduction of lower cost, single species Douglas-fir plantations preferred by the lumber industry.
Ecotrust Forest Management has made it their mission to protect, rehabilitate and restore the iconic temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 2004, Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM) uses investor capital to purchase and invest in commercially, ecologically, and culturally significant landscapes––specifically those that need rehabilitation, can benefit low-income communities, or are in an ecologically significant watershed. These properties span throughout the region, from the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State to the Klamath Basin in northern California, currently totaling 100,000 acres of forestland. EFM’s team of finance, forestry, and conservation professionals have pioneered a range of climate-smart forest management practices tailored to the unique features and location of each property, with the goal of restoring the complex natural function and integrity of the forest ecosystems.
EFM’s approach is characterized by a long-term view of forest management and an appreciation for the whole spectrum of economic, social, and ecological benefits forests offer to communities. Practices include the re-planting of important native tree species like the Western Red Cedar, restoration of riparian zones, sustainable timber harvest cycles that mimic natural disturbances, sale of conservation easements, and development or support of complementary non-timber forest product businesses that add economic value to forestlands and incentivize forest preservation in perpetuity. Examples of the latter include the region’s first forest carbon offset project, and a number of women and minority-led businesses based on wild-harvested forest products like salal foliage and berries, edible mushrooms, cider, and essential oils.
Ultimately, EFM works to transition its forest properties to mission-aligned, long-term owners such as community land trusts, public agencies, governments, and Native American tribes. The 2015 sale of 3200 acres of land to the Coquille tribe in Curry County embodies exactly the kind of mutually beneficial transition the fund works very hard to achieve. The purchase enabled the Coquille tribe to reestablish a significant portion of its ancestral homeland. Its mix of timber, culturally significant plants, salmon habitat, and hunting and foraging habitat will provide a place for the tribe to expand its traditional sustainable land-management practices and transfer cultural knowledge between the generations.
Open to accredited investors only. Photo by EFM. EFM’s practices include the re-planting of important native tree species like the Western Red Cedar.