Landowners’ forested holdings must be within the US, at least 40 acres in size, and all forested lands owned must be enrolled.
The latter requirement is industry-mandated to avoid what is called “activity-shifting leakage,” wherein one forested parcel is conserved at the expense of another (e.g., when harvest activities are increased on land parcels that are not enrolled).
Forestland must also be at risk of current or future conversion (i.e., to a land type other than forest), and/or aggressive commercial harvesting.
This is why it is important for you to disclose whether there are any conservation easements in place that may inhibit your right to commercially harvest timber, etc. Additionally, any commercial harvests that have occurred on the property within 10 years prior to application must be disclosed. We confirm this prerequisite has been met by examining historical aerial photography of the land at the time of your application, relative to the date of the last reported harvest. In some cases where the extent of the harvest is large and/or the harvest has occurred recently, the property may be ineligible for Membership.
Landowners’ forest management approaches must fit – or be adjusted to fit – the Conserve program’s requirements.
This means working with our team to ensure your management activities are compatible with storing and sequestering carbon over the long term. Harvesting is limited, but still allowed. We work with each landowner to ensure their forestry goals and management plans align with our program. Our tandem goal is both to conserve healthy forests for the future and to find financial solutions for landowners.
Landowners must be current on their property taxes.
Landowners must not have leased their timber rights.
Landowners must have the legal ability to conduct commercial timber harvesting on their property.
Commercial harvesting must be legally allowed on the property, but it must not be legally required to the extent that harvest levels are incompatible with our program.
If harvesting is prohibited, for example, by an existing no-touch conservation easement, your property will likely not be eligible for Membership. Working easements or easements with few restrictions may still be eligible.
Likewise, if you have a prior contractual obligation to harvest timber, your property may not be eligible depending on the details of your harvest obligations. If you are enrolled in a tax incentive program and are required to harvest, we can review your harvest plan to determine eligibility. If you are unsure about the terms of your harvest obligations or restrictions, just include related documentation when you apply, and we will assess!
Landowners that have already participated a harvest deferral program or another carbon program may or may not be eligible.
If the property was previously included in a verified forest carbon project, such as the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), then that property is not eligible. On the other hand, if you have signed up with a harvest deferral program such as NCX, you may be able to cancel your agreement and join our program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still unsure whether you qualify? Here are some common questions we get from landowners:
I inherited a family forest from my parents. My brother and I are listed on the deed as 50/50 owners. However, my brother doesn’t want anything to do with Membership. Can I still enroll?
Every owner who has 50% or greater interest must agree to move forward with our program; in this case, as it is unlikely that your brother would do so, your land will probably not be eligible. That said, our Membership Advisors would be happy to meet with your brother and see if we can address his concerns.
My family has founded a Limited Liability Partnership to take ownership of the forest property that we want to enroll. Outside of the partnership, I own an additional 220 acres of property which contains some forest. Do I need to enroll my personal property to be paid for our conservation practices?
As the landowner is a Limited Liability Partnership and the partnership does not have an ownership interest in your 220 acres of personal forest property, you do not have to enroll your personal property to be eligible for Membership. To clarify, Membership will be given to the Limited Liability Partnership and not specifically to you or your family members.
Occasionally we cut living and dead trees by hand for firewood and sometimes we sell some of our firewood to our neighbors. Are we eligible for membership even though we have harvested trees?
As the harvesting of firewood does not appear to be for the purpose of income generation, but for personal use, you are eligible for membership. It is also unlikely that the harvesting of trees for firewood can be detected from historical aerial photography, or that it would detract significantly from carbon stocks.
I purchased my forest property eight years ago. However, the prior owner harvested most of the timber from the property before they sold it to me. As I haven’t harvested any timber from the property myself, can I still conserve my forest with Forest Carbon Works?
If you were to apply for Membership today, you may not qualify because there was a significant commercial harvest within the last ten years. You may be eligible, but this can only be determined after your forest has been evaluated. The best approach is to go ahead and apply now and then discuss with your Membership Advisor to confirm your eligibility.
My forest property is located in Wisconsin and I am enrolled in the Managed Forest Law program. The management plan that was created for my property and that is recognized by the program stipulates that I should harvest 28 acres of mature red pine next year out of 200 acres. Am I eligible for membership even though I am enrolled in the MFL program?
The MFL program was created by law as an incentive for forest management. Because the MFL program requires you to follow your management plan and the management plan stipulates this harvest, the harvest is likely required by law. Although the answer to your question is unclear, the best approach is to have your management plan reviewed by a Forest Carbon Works Membership Advisor. You may need your plan to be amended by a qualified forester to exclude the harvest. Alternatively, you may withdraw from the MFL program. The best approach is to go ahead and apply now and then discuss with your Membership Advisor.
Am I eligible if my property is enrolled in a state tax program or current use program?
Depending on the constraints of the state program or if the state places a lien on your property, you may or may not be eligible. It will be necessary for a Forest Carbon Works Membership Advisor to review your state administered management plan to further assess. Even if your application has been accepted you may eventually have to choose between enrolling in our program or maintaining involvement in your state tax program. However, in many cases, state tax programs and their harvest requirements are compatible with program membership.
Please apply now and then discuss this concern with your Membership Advisor.
Why is there a prerequisite that harvests occurring 10 years prior to application submission may make a property ineligible?
The impact of this prerequisite on eligibility specifically depends on the amount harvested when the harvest occurred and the volume which existed prior to the harvest.
If a harvest has occurred, we welcome you to apply now and include any harvest documentation, as you may still qualify. The Membership Advisor working on your application will help to determine whether you are eligible.
Can I place a conservation easement on my property in conjunction with Forest Carbon Works Conserve membership?
Yes. You can place a conservation easement on your property (or part of your property) in conjunction with Forest Carbon Works Conserve enrollment. While creating a conservation easement in conjunction with membership is possible, having a conservation easement in place prior to project commencement can potentially make your forest ineligible, depending on the requirements and when it was officialized.
Why does having an existing conservation easement disqualify me from enrolling?
Depending on the details and restrictions created by the conservation easement (especially if management / harvesting are forbidden), a property may not be eligible. This is because it must be demonstrated that the long-term conservation carried out under your membership conserves the property more than what would be expected under a business-as-usual scenario.
If a property already has a conservation easement in place which forbids management or harvesting, then participating in Forest Carbon Works Conserve would not conserve the property more than the easement that is already in place. This is an important concept known as additionality and it is an important consideration for all forest owners seeking to enroll in our program.