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Home > Natural Resources > Land Management for Sustainable Communities and Natural Resources > Forestry Investments for Sustainable Land Management

US Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service provide carbon offset programs

US Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service provide carbon offset programs for companies and individuals

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Carbon Finance with Capital Fund for Offsetting Your Carbon Footprint

The National Forest Foundation and U.S. Forest Service join forces to combat climate change with the Carbon Capital Fund. Calculate your carbon footprint, or learn more about the Carbon Capital Fund.

At $6 per metric ton, you can offset the average carbon footprint of 10.73 metric tons with an investment of $64.38.

Forestry Investment in National Forest Lands

Your contribution will help fund projects with carbon benefits that will be implemented on National Forest lands. In addition to capturing carbon benefits, these projects will have substantial co-benefits of improving local wildlife habitat and water quality, and the ecological condition of our National Forests and Grasslands.

Carbon Finance with Capital Fund Projects

Significant increases in wildfires on National Forest lands have led to a greater need for reforestation. The Carbon Capital Fund will also invest in reforestation after other natural disasters, as well as hardwood afforestation projects on recently acquired National Forest lands.

Forest Service's announcement that it will be the first federal agency to offer personal carbon offsets through an initiative called the Carbon Capital Fund.

"We came up with the idea because everyone is looking at what they can do in terms of climate change," said Bill Possiel, president of the National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit partner of the Forest Service. "The money goes to a restricted fund for projects on national forests."

Trees and Forests Absorb 10% to 15% of US's Carbon Emissions

Trees and forests are "carbon sinks," Possiel said, because they draw carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming — out of the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time.

The Forest Service, an agency within the Agriculture Department, estimates that the 155 forests it oversees absorb 10% to 15% of the nation's carbon emissions and that planting through the new initiative will increase that amount.

Use the Carbon Calculator

Under the program, individuals can use a "carbon calculator" at to figure out the size of their carbon footprint. Then, they can buy offsets at $6 per metric ton of carbon dioxide. An average family of four is responsible for 19 to 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, so the offsets would cost $114 to $180.

Support our Forests...Like Smokey the Bear!

"People have an opportunity to contribute to the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests not only by countering climate change, but also by replanting forests for the benefit of future generations," Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell said in announcing the initiative.

There are other programs that allow individuals to purchase carbon offsets, but environmentalists have criticized them for insufficient regulation and lack of proof of the funds' use. That's not the case with the Forest Service program, Possiel said.

"We have third-party verification, a company that looks at our calculations but also does on-site verification," he said. "A lot of programs have verifications through computer models. The important component for us is the ground truth."

Almost all of the money will go to a restricted fund for planting trees, improving native wildlife habitat, and restoring land damaged by wildfires and other natural disasters. A small portion would be spent on the third-party verification.

The Forest Service will start the program with two projects: one in Payette National Forest in Idaho and the other in Custer National Forest in Montana and South Dakota.

For almost eight years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has had a similar program for companies and large groups.

However, unlike the Forest Service initiative, in which the government and the National Forest Foundation are directly responsible for the offset purchases, the Fish and Wildlife Service program funnels contributions to organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, that restore habitat and plant trees.

We've Lost 20 million acres of forestland in the lower Mississippi River Valley...That's HUGE!

“With the loss of more than 20 million acres of forestland in the lower Mississippi River Valley alone during the last century, restoring our nation’s native forest habitat is a critical component in our fight against climate change—one of the most challenging environmental issues of our time,” said The Conservation Fund’s president, Larry Selzer. “By leveraging new sources of conservation capital, we’re demonstrating the extraordinary results that can be achieved when public and private partners support a balanced approach to conservation.”

As part of its successful Carbon Sequestration Program, The Conservation Fund launched Go ZeroSM to engage people around the world -- companies, communities, and individuals—in the effort to combat climate change. Go ZeroSM measures the specific carbon dioxide emissions generated by virtually any type of human activity, from travel-related emissions to corporate headquarters, high profile events to single individuals. The Conservation Fund then offsets that impact by planting native trees, which absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

Restoring Wildlife Habitat AND Carbon Sinks at the Same Time

These newly restored habitats do more than just address climate change; they leave a lasting legacy by restoring important wildlife habitat, improving air and water quality, and enhancing outdoor recreational areas – the very places travelers visit.

Since 2000, The Conservation Fund has restored nearly 30,000 acres and planted nine million trees through its carbon sequestration program. Over the next 100 years, these new forests will capture an estimated 13 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. Calculate your footprint at

The Conservation Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Launch National Partnership to Restore Wildlife Habitat and Offset Carbon Emissions by Planting Trees.


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