Family Forest Carbon Program: How It Works in 2023 (Sell Green Credits)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | March 30, 2023

Family forest carbon programs being considered by a family in the forest looking at trees to choose the best family forest offset.

The family forest carbon program is part of the initiatives that have been put in place to combat the increasingly high levels of global warming. Industries and individuals are constantly releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, contributing to the prevalent climate change, according to scientists.

In an effort to deal with the situation, different organizations have joined hands to fight against climate change through initiatives like the family forest carbon program. This guide explains how the program works and how it manages to help families sell green credits.

What Is the Family Forest Carbon Program?

The FFCP is a creation of the American Forest Foundation together with The Nature Conservancy to add forest landowners with few acres of forest land (30 – 2,400 acres) to the carbon credits business for carbon sequestration on their property.

The program has its own guidelines, which direct the payment of these family forest landowners for the amount of carbon they can sequester through their property. The program came up after realizing that most small forest owners were being left out of climate change initiatives for not having enough land.

With guidelines and additional resources, small property owners can contribute massively to the fight against climate change.7 The money they get from selling carbon credits can also help them expand and grow their properties.

How Does the Family Forest Carbon Program Work?

The family forest carbon program targets small forest woodland owners. These are landowners who would love to take better care of their forests, help save the planet, and make extra cash in the process. The FFCP website has all the requirements for joining the program.

A savanna with some trees and grassy land, with the cloudy sky in the background.

(Image: photogrammer712)

Once your land has been approved for the program, you get a customized management plan from expert foresters provided by the program. You will implement scientifically proven practices that increase carbon sequestering and get paid for it. There are two main management plans for family forest landowners in the FFCP.

One of them is a 20-year contract that involves growing mature forests and delaying harvesting so that you can engage in sustainable forest practices as directed by the experts. A second option is usually a 10-year contract for future forest enhancement. In this one, management practices involve undergrowth and invasive species management to pave the way for the next generation of trees.

The good thing about the family forest carbon program is that the payments are made annually and are determined by the size of the land and its condition rather than the carbon credits sale. The contract also has provisions that allow limited harvesting for personal use. The funds to support the FFCP come from selling carbon credits and partnering with different companies with the same vision.

Organizations and Companies Involved With the Family Forest Carbon Program

The organizations and companies involved with the operation of the Family Forest Carbon Program are:

Family Forest Impact Foundation

The Family Forest Impact Foundation is an affiliate of the American Forest Foundation, established in 2019 to help small landowners benefit from their property through proper forest practices.

The foundation is responsible for administering the FFCP and ensuring that the landowners get paid for the conservation activities they perform on their lands.

Photo of several tall trees inside a fence.

(Image: Rachel Claire13)

The foundation is also responsible for finding funding for various FFCP projects and connecting the owners to carbon markets for carbon credits sales. That partnership helps improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and reduce the carbon footprint of companies that cannot entirely avoid releasing harmful gasses into the atmosphere.

Amazon Family Forest Carbon Program

Amazon has been intentional about contributing to environmental conservation by donating to courses aimed at improving the environment. Due to money constraints and other factors, the Family Forest Carbon Program started with a few counties for its pilot project. However, the intention was to expand and offer the opportunity to more landowners from different states in the US.

Amazon contributed $7.3 million towards the program in an attempt to expand its reach into various states after launching in Pennsylvania.1 Other partners in the private and public sectors have come out to support the initiative as it adopts new carbon offset methods.

Amazon TNC Case Study

The National Conservancy is a global environmental organization that provides nature-based solutions to climate change. It forms relevant partnerships with companies that can hugely impact its goals and objectives for climate change. The most recent and significant collaboration is with Amazon through the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator project.

Boat at the Amazon with the sky reflecting on the Amazon River.

(Image: deltreehd14)

The project is focused on providing sustainable ways of carbon offsetting while helping small farmers in Brazil earn a living.2 The project is trying to restore native forests through natural means of trapping carbon, which will significantly impact the fight against climate change.

American Forest Foundation Family Forest Carbon Program

The American Forest Foundation is a long-standing organization that supports family forest owners in the US by initiating beneficial projects for them and as a way of conserving the forests and water bodies.

Photo of a tractor watering a field with tall trees in the background.

(Image: Mark Stebnicki15)

They partner with the right people to ensure the success and innovation of better practices that keep raising the bar on forest management practices. Some of the things they do are mitigate wildfires, increase carbon storage, protect clean water, and improve wildlife habitat. They also support local communities and ensure there is a sustainable wood supply.8

The American Forest Foundation partners with relevant organizations to help achieve their intended goals and keep everything working. The foundation collaborated with The National Conservancy to create the FFCP and help family forest owners make the most out of their forests. That collaboration also goes a long way to help reduce the carbon offset of companies by selling carbon credits to them.

Family Forest Carbon Program in Different Places

The Family Forest Carbon Program was launched in Pennsylvania but has since expanded to other regions with the same goal of helping curb carbon offset. While the idea is the same, different locations require different implementation methods depending on the environment, climate, and other factors.

Also, the family forest owners might have different requirements based on what the area looks like. The explanations below will help you understand the dynamics of joining the FFCP in the various locations listed and how the selling of carbon credits works in those areas.

Family Forest Carbon Program Vermont

The American Forest Foundation and The National Conservancy opened the Vermont family forest landowners FFCP program enrollment in July 2022.3 According to Vermont statistics, up to 62% of forested land belongs to family forest owners.

But since carbon markets have been working with farmers who own more than 5000 acres of land, most small forest owners could not get any income from their forests. After introducing the FFCP in Vermont, even landowners with less than 1000 acres of forest land can benefit from the sale of carbon credits. They can also impact the planet, wildlife, and community positively.

Family forest Carbon Program West Virginia

West Virginia9 was also a candidate for consideration in expanding the FFCP into more states and counties. That was mainly because of their incredible resources in terms of forest cover. Even with such immense ecological, timber, and carbon resources, the number of landowners who were initially benefitting from the carbon credits programs was limited.4

That is because those projects require a lot of capital due to the high upfront costs and are a bit complex. That means that only landowners with massive pieces of land can be able to achieve all that. With the Family Forest Carbon Program, even small landowners in West Virginia can enroll in conservation projects and benefit from them.

Family Forest Carbon Program Pennsylvania

AFFand TNC launched the Family Forest Carbon Program in Pennsylvania as the first state. That was back in 2020 when they wanted to see how well it would work and decide whether they could expand to other regions in the US from that data

It was supposed to be a smooth sail, but since it happened at the height of COVID, some of the challenges experienced included the inability of in-person land visits from the foresters. Nevertheless, the team achieved most of its goals of enrolling small-scale landowners into the FFCP program.

The pilot program’s success made it easy to expand the operations to other areas like Vermont and West Virginia. The program encourages farmers from all over the US to register on their website even when the operations are not yet established in their location. That makes it easy to know whether you qualify for enrollment. Once it gets there, you can just join automatically.

Family Forest Carbon Program Payment Methods

The Family Forest Carbon Program pays its members annually, depending on their land size. That means the payment rate is based on the acres of land you have signed up for the program.

While money from carbon sequestering is not a lot of money, it can supplement the farmers’ income and help them take better care of their land. The average pay10 per acre for landowners in the FFCP is $4-$8, but it changes depending on various factors.

Once you agree to join the program, the program helps you set up your farm by providing some of their forester staff. That speeds up the process of starting and makes the farmers’ work easier. Their contracts go for 10 or 20 years, meaning you have to commit to working with them for a lengthy period.

Family Forest Carbon Program Reviews

FFCP has great reviews from the people who have been part of the program because of its commitment to giving value to the landowners.5 The program pays landowners annually whether they sell carbon credits or not.

That guarantee is what makes it easy to work with them. They also help farmers establish new practices by offering foresters in their staff fraternity to avoid the hassle of looking for one for so long.

The payment rates depend on many factors and are competitive, considering the other perks the program offers its members. They also continuously seek funding from reliable companies like Amazon to help reach out to as many forest landowners as possible.

How To Get Paid for Forest Carbon Credits

Anyone with considerable land can benefit from the sale of carbon credits. However, you need to have the right knowledge of the carbon credits markets. You can either do your own research and implement the right management practices in your forest carbon offsets or partner with organizations that sponsor forest owners to adopt these practices.

The best thing about partnering with organizations like AFF that have wide knowledge on the matter and the right connections is that you do not have to worry about the sale of carbon credits. The Family Forest Carbon Program will do the heavy lifting and look for buyers for your carbon credits.

They pay you based on the market rates and do not require you to do anything other than implement the suggested forest management practices. However, there is a lot of information available online for anyone who wants to go solo and trade on the carbon credits markets.

What Are Some of the Forest Carbon Markets?

Voluntary markets are markets where individuals voluntarily buy carbon credits as an act of protecting the environment or CSR. Anyone can buy carbon credits in such markets, and there are factors like project type, location, and marketing that affect the price of the carbon credits.

Compliance markets11 are different in that the prices here are more stable. Cap-and-trade programs are some examples of such markets. These markets come up to regulate the amount of GHGs emissions released into the atmosphere. There are regulations that cap the quantity of the emissions that individuals and firms can emit and therefore buy the credits to increase that limit.

What Are Forest Carbon Offsets?

Some companies cannot entirely avoid the emission of carbon because of the type of production they do. However, each company has a limit on how much carbon they can emit as a way to conserve the planet.

Photo of a man and a woman trimming young trees.

(Image: Anna Shvets16)

Once they exhaust that limit, companies go to carbon credits markets to buy the credit to emit those greenhouse gasses. Forest carbon offsets are given to forest owners who have managed to absorb an amount of carbon from the atmosphere through the trees they have planted. They can sell the credits to companies that want to offset their carbon emissions in the carbon credits markets.

NCX Carbon Credits Market

NCX rebranded from Silvia Terra in 2021 to enable them to focus on building ecosystem markets. They have a forest carbon program that caters to all landowners, including the small ones. Like FFCP, their goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and protect the environment by initiating carbon sequestering projects in as many places as possible.

They also partner with various stakeholders to help drive their goals and objectives to their members. Unlike FFCP, NCX offers much shorter contacts going for just a year. They give the landowners a 1-year contract and can review the contract terms after the year is over.

That arrangement has also made it easy for them to partner with even bigger industrial managers who want to diversify their income and not just rely on timber sales. They use the ton-year accounting to account for performance with the 1-year contracts.6

NCX Carbon Reviews

The NCX carbon programs have good reviews among members, mainly because they work with both small and large forest landowners. They have had a huge turnout of family forest landowners in the last year, all waiting for the assessment that qualifies them for enrollment.

The 1-year contracts are also a reason to work with the program because it means that if you do not like the engagement after the year, you can discontinue your engagement. NCX also offers jobs to consultants and provides more market opportunities for people to make extra money.

Family forest carbon programs have come to help small forest owners contribute to carbon sequestering projects and, in turn, get paid for the sale of carbon credits. With the program expanding to multiple states in the US, more family forest owners will benefit from carbon credits.

Besides the monetary benefits of joining such a program, you will be using your land to benefit the planet and everyone living in it. The details to join the Family Forest Carbon Program are available on the AFF website and the Family Forest Impact Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Forest Carbon Program

What Is the Value of Forest Carbon Credits?

The value of forest carbon credits depends on the market rates and the specific trading market you decide to buy or sell. There are many online carbon credit markets that you can use to trade carbon credits at market rates.

What is Finite Carbon?

Finite Carbon is a company in North America that supplies and develops forest carbon offsets.

How Can I Become an American Forest Foundation Staff Member?

You can go to their website, the careers page, where they list all the available opportunities within the organization.


1Amazon, TNC Announce Investment in Nature-Based Solutions. (2021, September 2). The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

2Family Forest Carbon Program Open to Small Forest Holders in West Virginia. (2021, October 22). The Intelligencer. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

3Family Forested Carbon | TNC Vermont. (2022, July 13). The Nature Conservancy. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

4Macintosh, A. (n.d.). Fueled By Foresters: A Review of the NCX Forest Carbon Program in 2021. NCX. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

5New Forest Carbon Offset Strategies Turn to Small Landowners for Big Impact. (2020, July 24). Conservation Finance Network. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

6What is Selling Forest Carbon Like? Three Landowners’ Experiences. (2021, September 1). Penn State Extension. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from <>

7NASA. (2022, November 2). Home. Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from <>

8Ince, P. J., & McKeever, D. B. (2011). Wood supply and demand. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from <>

9US Government. (2022). West Virginia. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from <>

10The Pennsylvania State University. (2021, September 1). What is Selling Forest Carbon Like? Three Landowners’ Experiences. Penn State Extension. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from <>

11NC State University. (2019, July 10). An Introduction to Forest Carbon Offset Markets | NC State Extension Publications. NC State Extension Publications. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from <>

12Photo by photogrammer7. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

13Photo by Rachel Claire. Pexels. Retrieved from <>

14Photo by deltreehd. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

15Photo by Mark Stebnicki. Pexels. Retrieved from <>

16Photo by Anna Shvets. Pexels. Retrieved from <>