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US empowers small landowners with $150 million for climate-positive partnerships

In a proactive move towards nature conservation, the United States has unveiled a $150 million grant programme aimed at assisting owners of small forestland parcels in forming partnerships with companies willing to pay for carbon offsets and environmental credits. This initiative, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a gathering in coastal Georgia, aims to rectify the imbalance in benefits that has largely favoured owners of larger acreage in existing programmes.

US empowers landowners for climate-positive partnerships_ripe apple trees in the agricultural field_visual 1Ripe apple trees in an agricultural field.

The grant programme, funded by the recent climate legislation, focuses on supporting small landowners, including military veterans, new farmers, and families owning 2,500 acres or less. By encouraging these landowners to participate in carbon offset programmes, the government seeks to safeguard more tracts of US forests, contributing significantly to the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

Read more: Brazil invests $350 billion for a greener economy and sustainable infrastructure

For smaller family tracts, the opportunity to sell carbon offsets and other credits presents an alternative income stream compared to traditional practices like timber harvesting or property development. Previously, eligibility barriers and technical and financing challenges prevented many small landowners from participating in carbon offset markets.

The administration's initiative is set to change this landscape, with grants of up to $25 million being made available to nonprofit organisations such as the American Forest Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, state forestry agencies, and university agricultural extension services. These organisations will provide direct assistance to landowners, facilitating the development of land management plans and connecting them with companies seeking environmental credits.

Read more: Deforestation in the United States: causes, consequences, and cures

John Littles, a leader of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Network, applauds the inclusivity of the programme, emphasising the often-overlooked opportunities for people of colour and smaller landholders. Littles expresses optimism about the programme's potential, noting that its success will largely hinge on the financial benefits it provides to owners of smaller acreages.

Rita Hite, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, stresses that while profits may not be substantial, the initiative holds promise in easing financial pressures for smaller landowners, contributing to sustainable land management practices. As this programme unfolds, it offers a promising avenue for positive change and enhanced environmental stewardship.

In the journey towards building a more sustainable future, the active participation of local communities' active participation is an indispensable cornerstone. DGB Group’s nature-based projects are firmly rooted in community engagement, enabling us to gain invaluable insights into their needs, concerns, and ambitions. By embracing this collaborative approach, we shape initiatives that not only contribute to carbon reduction but also yield tangible advantages for the residents of the regions we serve. These benefits include opportunities for employment, the growth of essential infrastructure, or various avenues for socio-economic progress. In essence, the success of our endeavours is intricately woven with the thriving heartbeat of the local communities we proudly partner with.

Learn more about how DGB can help you unlock the power of your land

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