AUGUSTA, ME – The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNEF), will receive funding to expand the number of Master Logger Certified® companies and develop Climate-Smart curriculum and incentives for loggers as part of a $30 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.

USDA awarded the grant on Sept. 14 to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) and its partners to help forest landowners implement climate-smart forest practices that also protect ecosystem health and biodiversity. The partnership includes more than 20 companies, organizations, and institutions from across New England, including TCNEF.

The overall project is known as the New England Climate-Smart Forest Partnership Project and will implement forest management practices with large commercial producers and smaller woodlot owners to store more carbon in the forest, quantify the resulting carbon gains, and build markets for climate-smart forest products to store carbon in wood products and substitute wood products for fossil fuel-based materials.

TCNEF will receive more than $2.3 million of the funds and match that amount through its own funds and in-kind contributions to generate up to $4.7 million. That money will be utilized over four years to cut application costs for logging companies seeking Master Logger certification – thereby expanding the number of new companies by up to 50 percent, developing and offering Climate-Smart logging training including Best Management Practices (BMPs), and incentivizing companies to adopt the practices taught in that curriculum through payments on a per-acre basis.

“Loggers, and more specifically Certified Master Loggers, play a critical role in Climate-Smart Forest practices, they are the ones who implement BMPs and provide the quality work which has a major impact on the amount of carbon storage and climate resilience a forest can achieve,” Ted Wright, Executive Director of TCNEF, said. “TCNEF thanks USDA for recognizing the important role of loggers and including them in this program”

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools. The 70 projects announced on September 14 are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million. Access the full list of selected projects.

The Master Logger Certification Program® was created in 2000 as the world’s first point-of-harvest certification program, offering third party independent certification of logging companies’ harvesting practices. In 2003, the TCNEF was created to administer the program with the broader goal of “enhancing the health of working forest ecosystems through exceptional accountability” throughout the Northern Forest region.

Master Logger has since expanded to seven northeast states from Maine to New York. Today there are more than 120 Master Logger companies in the region.

In addition to administering the Master Logger program, TCNEF administers an FSC®-certified group of family forest landowners throughout New England and New York. Under this arrangement forest landowners can inexpensively gain access to FSC® group certification. TCNEF is the administrative body that holds the FSC certificate and has overall responsibility for compliance with the FSC® Northeast Regional Standard.

TCNEF also administers an FSC®-certified group of Chain of Custody that provides an information trail, established and audited according to rules set by FSC, for Master Loggers and wood products companies to ensure that wood comes from certified forests.

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