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Forest Health-Human Health Initiative

The Pinchot Institute is piloting the Forest Health-Human Health (FHHH) Initiative to demonstrate how voluntary carbon markets can provide a funding mechanism to help families maintain their private forestlands while also providing affordable health care services for forest landowners.  

The loss of U.S. forestland is estimated at four acres per minute, and family forests are a major contributor. To find out what drives family woodland owners to sell or develop their forestland or harvest timber unsustainably, Pinchot Institute conducted extensive research, including interviews of over 1,000 forestland owners and their offspring across the U.S. The findings revealed that one of the leading factors for sale, development or harvesting of family woodlands is to cover unexpected medical or long-term health care expenses. With the average age of forestland owners now over 75, an estimated 40 million acres of family forests are at risk of being subdivided or completely converted to non-forest uses.

Forest Health - Human Health – How it works

The FHHH Initiative was developed by Pinchot Institute to propose a solution to this high rate of loss of family-owned woodland due to development, and the unsustainable management or sale of family forestlands, due to unexpected health-related financial needs.

Instead of developing, selling or harvesting their forestland, the FHHH Initiative will provide family forest owners the option to implement sustainable forest management practices to store additional carbon in their forests.

The carbon will be measured and monitored following an ACR offset accounting methodology, and the emissions reductions will be independently verified, generating tradable carbon offsets. Families will bank the revenue from the sale of the carbon offsets to cover health care expenses.

The Benefits

The FHHH initiative is specifically tailored to address this link between forest conservation and health care, which is not addressed by existing federal and state programs that promote forest stewardship private lands. This creative twist on carbon markets provides forest landowners with greater financial security, helping to keep forest land in the family, even if a catastrophic health event should occur.

Carbon Markets and FHHH

Pinchot has kicked off the pilot phase of FHHH with family forest landowners in Columbia County, Oregon. The pilot project will be among the first to use the ACR methodology that was developed specifically with family forest owners in mind. Pinchot also plans to work with ACR to develop new methodologies for the measurement of health-related co-benefits of the initiative.   

Family forest owners manage 264 million acres, or 35 percent, of all U.S. forestland, offering a sizeable potential to build on the Oregon pilot and expand the FHHH initiative. Pinchot intends to work with project development partners to scale the initiative and demonstrate the links between forest health and human health at the regional and national levels.

For more information on the Forest Health-Human Health Initiative, contact Brian Kittler at