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Forest Carbon Incentives program would support forest owners increasing carbon sequestration, promoting sustainable forest practices

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced an amendment to Keystone XL legislation before the Senate to provide incentives to private forest owners willing to undertake improved forest management activities that will sequester and store more carbon on their land. The practice, known as “carbon sequestration,” can offset sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“My amendment outlines a common-sense approach to help New Hampshire’s forest owners maximize the value of their land, keep our forests intact, and promote sustainable forestry practices that will protect the environment in the long run,” Senator Shaheen said. “The Forest Carbon Incentives program is a practical program that will benefit both our rural economy and the environment by reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and helping mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Shaheen’s amendment directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish and manage a Forest Carbon Incentives program that allows eligible forest landowners to enter at least a 15-year “climate mitigation contract” by adopting conservation practices that deliver proven emissions reductions. In addition to helping landowners maximize the value of their forests, the bill creates opportunities for landowners to gain further financial incentives by entering into permanent conservation property agreements.

"Senator Shaheen's Forest Carbon Incentives Program proposal will help forest owners keep their forests intact and increase climate change mitigation by capturing even more carbon in forests," said Rita Hite, Executive Vice President, ATFS, Woodlands, and Policy at the American Forest Foundation.  "As the largest ownership group of forestland, America's 22 million family forest owners are a key piece of the puzzle in our national climate response, and they can do even more to reduce carbon emissions and improve resiliency with the right policies in place."

"The U.S. forest sector is well positioned to leverage the natural capacity of forests to capture and store carbon emissions," said Jad Daley, Director of the Climate Conservation Program at The Trust for Public Land. "Senator Shaheen's innovative proposal will create financial incentives to advance this powerful carbon solution, bringing along all of the co-benefits well-managed private forests provide for our economy and environment.  Currently, private forests offset more than 10 percent of U.S. annual carbon emissions.”

The full text of Shaheen’s amendment is available here.