Forest Resilience Bond

About

2016 Fire Awards Finalist

Champion
Zach Knight, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Forest Conservation

About
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.

Barriers Addressed

  • Overgrown forests increase the likelihood of severe wildfire and threaten water resources
  • Government agency budget constraints limit forest restoration activities

Approach
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