Spotlight: Family Forest Carbon Program

Nov 29, 2022 12:00 PM ET
Young saplings with the text "Spotlight: Family Forest Carbon Program" superimposed

Originally published in International Paper's 2021 Sustainability Report

Forests cover more than 750 million acres in the U.S., about one-third of the country’s landmass. They represent the country’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, continuously taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in trees. Yet forests offer significantly greater potential to mitigate the country’s carbon impacts through carbon-smart forest management.

Enter family forest landowners — the families and individuals who own and manage nearly 40% of America’s forestlands. Forest landowners, whose tracts measure between 30 acres and 2,400 acres, care deeply about the health of their woods, the future of their land and the planet. They want to play an active role in protecting forests, but often struggle to realize the full potential of their land for carbon sequestration.

The Family Forest Carbon Program, developed by the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, with financial and technical support from International Paper, enables family forest owners to access climate finance from carbon markets — empowering them to help address climate change while earning income from their land.

2021 represented a significant milestone for the Program, when it scaled up its ambitious goal to engage small, family forest landowners in large-scale natural climate solutions, implementing it widely in the Central Appalachian area of the U.S.

Launching in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland in 2021, the program engaged 90 landowners representing 14,735 acres with a total anticipated carbon benefit of 471,520 metric tons of CO2e removed through the end of their 20-year contracts.

More than 90% of International Paper’s fiber supply in the U.S. comes from privately owned forests, most of which are small and family owned.

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International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global supplier of renewable fiber-based products. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal care products that promote health and wellness. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 38,000 colleagues globally. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2021 were $19.4 billion. See how we’re building a better future for people, the planet, and our company at