2016 Fire Awards Finalist
Zach Knight, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Forest Conservation
In an era of unprecedented wildfire and intensifying climate change, enabling community resilience to climate impacts has never been more critical to our survival. Yet overgrown forests plague the Western U.S., increasing fire severity and carbon emissions while threatening water supplies, communities, and lives. In fact, after decades of aggressive fire suppression, many forests hold up to 10 times as many trees as nature intended, contributing to wildfire, climate, and water challenges nationwide.
Forest restoration is proven to decrease the risk of fire severity, improve a forest’s ability to sequester carbon, protect water quality, and even increase water quantity available for low-carbon hydroelectricity generation and downstream consumption. The US Forest Service has identified 65+ million acres of public forest land in need of restoration but lacks the resources to implement treatments at scale.
With government and philanthropic funding falling short, Blue Forest Conservation is developing the Forest Resilience Bond, a public-private partnership that mobilizes private capital to invest in forest health.
- Overgrown forests increase the likelihood of severe wildfire and threaten water resources
- Government agency budget constraints limit forest restoration activities
Third party investor capital finances the upfront costs of forest restoration. Cost share and pay-for-performance contracts are signed with the US Forest Service, water and electric utilities (who benefit from increased water supply, protected water quality, and protected infrastructure), and state governments (who benefit from reduced wildfire severity as well as the positive social impacts of job creation and increased rural community resilience). These contractual arrangements provide diversified cash flows to investors while meeting the restoration needs identified by the US Forest Service.
BNEF On-Stage Pitch
Key Impact Metrics
- Market opportunity: $20+ Billion
- Potential scale of intervention: $500 million p.a.
Most Recent Update
- September 2017 release of publication “Fighting Fire with Finance: A Roadmap for Collective Action” and new website
- Planning for 3+ pilot projects in 2018-2019 in California and Colorado
- Partnerships with 15+ organizations
- Grant funding to cover further development of the Forest Resilience Bond
- Concessionary debt to finance pilot projects
- Market-rate debt and equity to finance pilot and subsequent projects
News & Events
Los Angeles Times: Start-up Blue Forest secures funding for first privately financed forest fire bondNovember 15, 2018
2016 Fire Awards Finalist Forest Resilience Bond announced that they’ve secured $4.6 million in private capital for a pilot forest restoration project to mitigate wildfire risk in Tahoe National Forest. The project was recently featured in an article in the Los Angeles Times. Read the article on the LA Times website here. Read the original press […]