U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities:
Preserving Forests and Rural Economies
Founded a dozen years ago, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (USE) focuses on invigorating forested rural communities by restoring and retaining healthy forests, promoting and capturing multiple value chains to enhance local economies, and building community capacity and leadership.
USE works with Quantified Ventures (QV), a Washington, D.C., boutique consulting firm that specializes in impact investing. With other clients, QV has structured a series of impact bonds to underwrite the implementation of green infrastructure to address storm water flows in Baltimore, Atlanta, and other areas. It also is assisting a corporation in promoting best management practices on farms and creating a fund to use an Airbnb tax to support bonds for new mountain bike trails in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.
Using a $450,000 grant from the Foundation, USE will engage QV to evaluate the feasibility of applying similar impact investment strategies to the priority landscapes in Pennsylvania and other states that the trustees have protected throughout the last decade. QV also will structure new finance mechanisms for the lands and solicit other funders to assist with implementing project costs. Such efforts will support public access, tourism, sustainable timbering, and rural economic development—all of which align well with the Foundation’s conservation and rural economic development tactics and will help shape its 2020 strategic plan.