Wood Pellet Demand Creates Jobs for Clean Energy

Wood Pellet Demand Creates Jobs for Clean Energy

Unlike fossil fuels like coal and oil, wood is widely accepted as a renewable fuel because once a tree is cut another can be immediately planted in its place. When trees are harvested from forests, the logs are sent to sawmills for processing and the trimmings known as biomass – the branches, stems, and leaves – are the biomass used to make energy. One way that forest biomass is converted to energy is by making wood pellets. Like other recyclable wood products, wood pellets have a carbon-neutral effect on the environment.

Wood pellets are made of compacted sawdust that have had the moisture extracted from it. Newer pellet stoves have very low particulate emissions and require electricity for power. Their high density and low moisture content create a high combustion efficiency, making them an effective and clean source of energy. According to the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, in addition to using byproducts from the processing of wood products, the industry also makes pellets from low grade lumber that has defects, disease, or pest infestation.

Demand Grows for Pellets

Many governments consider wood pellets to be a renewable energy resource. Demand for wood pellets has increased substantially, especially in the European Union. In fact, in December of 2016, Demark converted its largest power station from being powered by coal to being powered by renewable wood pellets. The government believes this change will help the country meet their climate targets.

In recent years, North America has become the primary supplier of wood pellets to the European Union. A report published by the US Forest Service suggests that the Renewable Energy Directive has increased demand for wood pellets in Europe. According to the report, the Directive “requires a 20 percent contribution from bioenergy to the energy use of all EU Member States by 2020.” Moreover, because the EU requirements were extended through 2030, this could have an even greater impact on wood pellet consumption.

The surge in demand for wood pellets in the EU is heavily supplied by the south-eastern United States. According to the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, the reason North America supplies Europe with its pellets is that North America has significantly more forestland than Europe and our forests are sustainably managed. In the past six years, to meet this demand one Maryland-based biomass company, Enviva, invested $214 million USD and opened five wood pellet mills. According to Biomass magazine, at least four additional plants focused on exports are scheduled to open in the southern United States. By the end of 2017 the industry is expected to create 160 permanent jobs.


8 Ways to Reduce Your Winter Energy Usage

8 Ways to Reduce Your Winter Energy Usage

North American winters are typically the time when many folks spend money making their homes comfortably warm. Utility bills and expenses often spike during the winter but there are several things that can be done to mitigate those expenses. Some ways to reduce your utility bill cost money but over several years, those investments will pay off. However, there are many ways to reduce your utility bills that don’t cost any additional money.

Free and Easy Fixes

  1. Use the sleep or hibernation feature on a desktop or laptop computer will also conserve energy. Having a computer on regular mode when it’s not being used wastes energy. Save money by letting your computer rest when it’s not in use by customizing these features.
  2. Print on paper only when necessary. When you do use a printer, consider having two sources of paper: new and recycled. If you’re printing something informal, use the blank side of the recycled sheet and only use the new paper if you’re printing something more formal.
  3. Unplug equipment when it’s not in use, such as during holidays, weekends, and evenings. This includes printers, scanners, vending machines, lights, air conditioners, heaters, or other equipment. Most of these types of equipment continue to draw power while they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off.
  4. Use the sun’s energy to heat a building. By letting sunlight into a room during the day and covering the windows with thick curtains at sunset, you can trap the sun’s heat inside your home.


Invest in your Long Term Energy Usage

  1. Replace existing light bulbs with compact florescent lights (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED). According to the US Department of Energy, CFL’s last 3 – 25 times longer and use between 25% – 80% less energy than regular light bulbs. LED’s boast similar savings and also emit very little heat. Although they cost more money upfront, you’ll reap the savings on your utility bill, especially during peak usage times when energy rates tend to be higher.
  2. Invest in a programmable thermostat or one that connects to your wireless internet so you can control the temperature remotely. That way, if you accidentally leave the thermostat on, you can access it remotely to turn it off.
  3. Install more insulation in your manufacturing facility. Having a well-insulated home allows you to have more control over your home’s temperature during winter and summer months. Over time, this investment will save money by lowering the energy required to heat or cool your home.
  4. Consider solar panels. Although it’s an expensive upfront investment, over time, solar panels could save you a great deal of money. Depending on your location, many solar panel companies offer rebates. USDA programs like REAP offer grant assistance for small businesses in rural areas to switch to solar, though some restrictions apply.



Converting Forest Biomass to Biofuel

Converting Forest Biomass to Biofuel

A new technology developed by Gaz Metro, the largest natural gas provider in Quebec, has converted biomass from forests into second-generation renewable natural gas.  The conversion process, developed in collaboration with the British Columbia firm G4 Insights, marks an accomplishment for the technological community and for renewable natural gas supporters.

Forest Biomass

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Forest biomass has historically been converted to energy in cogeneration plants. This technology burns the forest biomass to create steam, which is used to power turbines that produce power for the electrical grid. The benefits of using forest biomass as an ingredient for natural gas could allow for more widespread uses, allowing people to fuel their home appliances and perhaps one day even cars, with forest-supplied natural gas.

Forests are considered carbon sinks in that they sequester a great deal of carbon from the atmosphere. In fact, the USDA Forest Service estimates that forests absorb between 10-15% of carbon dioxide emissions. That carbon is stored in a tree’s trunk, branches, leaves, soil, and roots and is released into the atmosphere when it decomposes or burns. The process is considered carbon neutral because the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere is no greater than what was originally absorbed during the tree’s growth phase.


Renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane, has been used for many years. In many cases, biomethane is used interchangeably with conventional natural gas.  However, in order for the quality of renewable natural gases to be used on current gas grids, the quality must meet very high standards.

Biomethane, or biogas, has many different source origins. As of March 2015 there were about 645 landfills in the United States generating biogas, called landfill gas (LFG), underground. Another way to produce biogas is from animal manure from livestock operations. For this method, the manure must be processed in an anaerobic digester in order for the methane to stabilize.  Additionally, about 1,500 wastewater treatment plants across the United States use anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from solids removed from the wastewater.

All types of biogases are natural, which means that they come from the planet’s natural byproducts. Large petroleum deposits are the natural byproducts of millions of years of decomposed plants and animals. It’s only after a great deal of processing and refining is the petroleum suitable for use in cars and homes. However, the rate at which we consume petroleum deposits is argued to be much greater than the rate at which it’s replaced, which is one of the reasons why natural gas is made from other renewable sources that will regenerate at a much faster rate.


How Urban Trees Can Save Lives

How Urban Trees Can Save Lives

Excess carbon in the atmosphere amplifies the greenhouse effect and planting trees helps mitigate that impact because trees sequester carbon. But in urban areas, planting trees could provide even more localized benefits. A new study published by The Nature Conservancy suggests that if more trees were planted in larger cities, then residents in those cities could benefit from cooler temperatures and reduced air pollution.

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Trees cool the area around them by providing shade. Additionally, they use some of the sun’s warm energy during photosynthesis, effectively absorbing it from the atmosphere. Studies show that the combined efforts of these two factors can cool the surrounding local climate, resulting in cooler temperatures. Trees also act as natural filters that eliminate certain particulates and pollutants, effectively cleaning the air.

According to The Nature Conservancy study, cities with a low cost of planting trees, high levels of pollution and heat, and high population density would be expected to see the highest return on their investment. The study suggests that if $3.2 billion were invested among 245 of the world’s most populated cities, then up to 36,000 lives could be saved every year. Moreover, it’s estimated that an investment of this size could provide 77 million people with relief on the hottest days of the year by reducing temperatures and 68 million people would benefit from reductions in particulate matter pollution. This could save up to 48 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity for air conditioning and prevent up to 13 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Choosing City Trees

Perhaps the number of trees planted in cities isn’t the only factor that should be considered. Urban developers often select trees to plant primarily for aesthetic purposes. However, one group of scientists think the focus should shift from aesthetics to biodiversity. In a new study published in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning, Dr. Juliane Vogt observes that city planners frequently use between 10 to 15 different species of trees to plant in a city and suggests that that’s not enough to support biodiversity.

For many species of life, the habitat of urban life presents them with an opportunity for new beginnings. The benefit, then, of having more biodiversity of trees in cities is that it could support the survival and evolution of other animals in cities that otherwise couldn’t survive. Perhaps the benefits of planting more trees in densely populated, polluted urban areas could be expanded if a greater variety of tree species were also considered.  Moreover, the planting of a wide variety of trees would make urban areas less susceptible to widespread loss in the event of an insect or pathogen attack.

To search where tree planting can reduce heat in your city, visit the Planting Healthy Air Report below.


4 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

4 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Real Christmas trees are sustainably produced on farms in North America and they are 100% recyclable. Because they are 100% natural and biodegradable, there are many different ways to recycle your real Christmas tree once the holiday season has ended. Many towns offer local pickup services that will grind or chip the tree into mulch, compost, or biomass. However, in some regions of North America, there are special programs that use Christmas trees to have other positive impacts on the environment.

Rebuilding the Louisiana Coastline

Sailors assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 and civilians with the Environmental Division at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, place recycled Christmas trees at "E" Beach at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. The recycled trees are used to preserve sand dunes and prevent erosion. (Photo by: Seaman Tamekia Perdue) Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Sailors assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202 and civilians with the Environmental Division at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, place recycled Christmas trees at “E” Beach at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. The recycled trees are used to preserve sand dunes and prevent erosion. (Photo by Seaman Tamekia Perdue)

It’s estimated that the state of Louisiana loses between 25 and 35 square miles of coastal wetlands per year. Since 1986, 1.5 million Christmas trees have been recycled on the Louisiana coastline of Jefferson Parish. The trees are stacked to assemble a fence-like structure to combat erosion and slow wave action. This tree recycling program is estimated to have restored between 250 and 300 acres of marshland. There are currently about 8 miles worth of Christmas tree fences in this program.

Sand Dune Restoration

In recent years, devastating hurricanes on the east coast washed away protective sand dunes. For coastal towns, sand dunes are frequently the first line of defense against storms. The dunes protect backyards and basements from rising ocean waters. Some localities are using Christmas trees to help restore the sand dunes.

The Christmas trees are laid horizontally on the beach in piles, which forces sand to accumulate around them, so grass can grow. Over time, this will ultimately restore the sand dunes that were washed away during the storm and the trees will naturally decompose through biodegradation.

Bird Sanctuaries

In Illinois, herons and egrets have been forced from their native habitat by development. In 2000, a manmade rookery was built at Baker’s Lake Forest Preserve just outside of Chicago, offering native birds a place to nest. About 300-400 recycled Christmas trees are added to it each winter. The rookery is a tall, vertical structure on a small island at the lake. The Christmas trees hang from the rookery to provide shelter and privacy.


Across North America, the Boy Scouts have partnered with local communities to host Christmas tree recycling programs. Programs like these are frequently used as fundraisers to support local chapters to pick up your tree in exchange for a small donation. However, many cities offer free pickup as well. Most often trees picked up in this manner are grinded into wood chips, biomass, or made into compost.

Remember to remove all decorations, lights, ornaments, and tinsels from the tree before donating it. For additional tree pickup services in the United States, consider using this handy recycling search tool by Earth911 listed at the bottom of this page.



(Above photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license)

Christmas Tree Farms

Christmas Tree Farms

As this holiday season begins we’re exciting to be sharing some sustainable industry practices from the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA). Each year since 1966, the NCTA has provided the real Christmas tree that is on display at the White House Blue Room. Christmas tree farms are sustainable and real Christmas trees can be recycled into many of the same wood by-products as wood packaging materials.

Christmas tree farm in Iowa. Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Christmas tree farm in Iowa. Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Christmas trees are harvested, on average, 7-8 years after they’re planted and younger trees sequester a great deal of carbon from the atmosphere. Each year that a tree is harvested from a Christmas tree farm, another tree is planted in its place. Tree stumps are grinded to make space available for new trees to flourish. Grindings from wood stumps can be used to make garden mulch, outdoor walkway paths, or compost. Christmas tree farms are incredibly sustainable. Very little goes to waste!

Over the years, the NCTA has kept a close eye on the industry’s performance. They estimate that there are on average, between 25 – 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States every year and there are approximately 310 million Christmas trees currently growing on nearly 13,000 farms across the United States.

Artificial v. Real Christmas Trees

Most people choose artificial trees simply because there are no fallen needles to pick up. Many people also believe that artificial trees are more environmentally friendly than real trees. However, many artificial trees are made with PVC plastic and are non-recyclable. In other words, there is no other way to recycle an artificial Christmas tree once it has reached the end of its life. Additionally, there are questionable practices surrounding the production of PVC. According to a report published by Greenpeace UK, the production of PVC can emit carcinogens such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride, and vinyl chloride.

Real Christmas trees are carbon neutral, they’re safe for indoor use, and they’re recyclable. The selection process alone is a cherished and time-honored tradition among many families. Purchasing a real Christmas tree is a much more environmentally responsible decision. Farm-grown Christmas trees are sustainable.

Selecting the Best Christmas Tree

The NCTA encourages everyone to shop early for the best selection no matter where they live. Always request a fresh cut at the base of the tree’s trunk before you bring it home.  Then, once you get home, immediately place the tree trunk in a bucket of water particularly if the tree is not going to be placed in its stand for a while. For best results and a longer lasting beautiful real Christmas tree, always keep the tree watered throughout the holiday season.


Christmas Trees in the White House

Christmas Trees in the White House

Two weeks ago the United States held its 58th quadrennial presidential election and on January 20th, 2017, president-elect Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated into office. Each year for the past 93 years, the President of the United States has decorated the White House with two real Christmas trees. One is outside for public display and the second is traditionally hosted in the Blue Room within the White House.

The White House serves as a backdrop for the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

The White House serves as a backdrop for the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy). Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Each year, the National Park Foundation and National Park Service present the National Christmas Tree Lighting outdoors at the White House. This tradition dates back to 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 red, white, and green lights as a “quartet” from the U.S. Marine Corps Band performed. Although not every president since 1923 has lit a Christmas tree at the White House, many presidents have, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Truman, President Eisenhower, President Carter, President Reagan, President George W. Bush, and President Obama.

In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson delayed lighting the Christmas tree to respect the thirty days of mourning following the death of President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd. That year, the tree was lit on December 22nd.

Decorating the Tree

In 1954, a company called Hargrove, Inc., owned by Earl Hargrove, began decorating the National Christmas Tree. That year, there was a 60-foot-tall tree and the National Park Service erected several stories of staging to help them decorate it. At the time, however, stringed Christmas tree lights didn’t exist. According the National Park Service, Hargrove “manually installed sockets every foot on several hundred feet of wire and screwed in and tested every bulb. When a bulb became finicky, Hargrove would climb up and fix them in a Santa costume!” Hargrove, Inc. continues to decorate the National Christmas Tree at the White House.

Lighting the Tree

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, children began to help the President light the Christmas tree. In 1983, President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan recruited the help of seven-year-old Amy Bentham. National Park Service records show that “Amy had written to the ‘Make a Wish’ program, saying ‘The Christmas tree that lights up our country must be seen all the way to heaven. I would wish so much to help the President turn on those Christmas lights.’” Since then, several presidents have recruited children to help them light the tree.

Making Trees Energy Efficient

2007 was the first year the White House lit the National Christmas Tree with LED Christmas lights, making the tree more energy efficient. The 2008 National Christmas Tree was 50 percent more energy efficient than the previous year. In 2015, the White House honored the National Park Service’s Centennial in 2016 with specially themed Christmas Tree.

Blue Room Tree

Every year since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) has presented the White House with its official Christmas Tree for display in the Blue Room. The NCTA holds a contest in which growers, industry experts, and consumers vote to choose the grower that will provide the White House with a Christmas Tree. The 2016 White House Christmas Tree, a 19-foot tall balsam fir, was selected on September 27th from Whispering Tree Farms in Oconto, Wisconsin. It’s considered a very high honor to be selected to supply the White House with a Christmas Tree.


The History of Christmas Trees in North America

The History of Christmas Trees in North America

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Real Christmas trees are recyclable. They are often repurposed into mulch for garden use or the biomass can be converted to energy at cogeneration plants. As North America prepares for the holiday season, we want to take a moment to consider the history of Christmas trees in North America.

Early in American history, Christmas trees were abhorred for religious purposes but are now widely popular. In this article, we’ll discuss how Christmas trees evolved into a staple of the North American Christmas tradition.

Trees that remain green all year long have historically held special meaning for people around the world. The Germans are credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century. However, the Christmas tree tradition wasn’t widely adopted in the United States until much later. New England Puritans believed Christmas was sacred and celebrating the holiday with decorations was considered a mockery of faith. In fact, the General Court of Massachusetts enforced a law in 1659 that fined people for hanging decorations on December 25th. This continued until the 19th century, when the popularity of Christmas trees exploded.

Rising Popularity

In 1846, Queen Victoria and German Price Albert were sketched in the London News with their children standing around a Christmas tree. Queen Victoria was very popular and the things she did often became very fashionable in Britain and East Coast American society. As the image spread, eventually the number of people who wanted Christmas trees outnumbered the Puritans; and decorating homes with Christmas trees became a widely accepted practice in the United States.

Tree Decorations

In the early 20th century, people mostly decorated their trees with homemade ornaments, apples, nuts, or marzipan cookies. At one point, popcorn was dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts for decorations. Then, electricity paved the way for Christmas lights.

1917 Halifax Explosion

When German settlers migrated to Canada in the 1700’s, they brought with them the Christmas traditions we celebrate today, including gingerbread houses, cookies, Advent calendars, and, of course, Christmas trees. When Queen Victoria made Christmas trees fashionable, it quickly spread to Canada as well and they embraced the tradition as well.

On December 6, 1917, there was a terrible accident in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two ships collided at the harbor. The accident killed about 2,000 people and destroyed nearly half of the city. Boston relief workers were the first to arrive on scene, despite being delayed 24 hours due to a blizzard. They sent medical supplies, doctors, and nurses in response to the accident.

The following Christmas in 1918, Nova Scotia sent a Christmas tree to Boston, Massachusetts thanking them for their aid during the accident. The practice, however, lapsed several years until it returned in 1971. Every year since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree from their province. They felt especially connected to the tradition in light of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. 2016 will be the 45th consecutive year that Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was placed in 1931 by construction workers at the center of a construction site. It was said to be small and undecorated. Two years later, another tree was placed in the same spot, except this time with Christmas tree lights. Between 1931 and 2016, the only year there was not a Christmas tree at Rockefeller center was 1932. Historically, the trees were donated, and the predominant species is Norway Spruce. However, in more recent years garden managers hand-select a Norway Spruce from neighboring states, even Canada. To date, the infamous Rockefeller Center tree is decorated with more than 25,000 lights. It normally arrives on Veterans Day.

At present, it’s very common for North American cities of all sizes to host Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Events like these tend to draw large crowds as tree lighting ceremonies have become culturally significant in North America and in many countries around the world.


The Future of Forestry

The Future of Forestry

Sustainably managed forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere and ensure there will always be a supply of the lumber products available for our needs. North American harvesting practices are far from being universally accepted due to limitations in developing countries, however, advancements in technology have innovated industry practices that could speed up this process. As more countries certify their forests through their local non-profit forest certification program, they could use those technologies to increase their operational efficiencies.

Computer Simulation Programs

Aerial photographs using DJI Phantom 3 pro camera drone. Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Aerial photographs using DJI Phantom 3 pro camera drone. Photograph by Flickr, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Computer simulation programs help foresters adapt their management practices to changing conditions within forests. Weather conditions like warmer weather and drought could slow a forest’s rate of recovery from forest fires and clear cuts.

Scientists have developed mathematical calculations to make predictions about how forests will recover from events like forest fires. Interestingly, they have used drones to illustrate corresponding visualizations. One simulation program, LES, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service flew drones over a forest taking pictures. As one of its creators Jean Lienard states, “We use this data to develop 3D models that have real distributions of space and ecological features.” That data helps them make predictions about how forests will react to changing weather conditions and other events.

Using Drones in Forestry

In recent years, drone technology has deepened our understanding of forests and allowed for better forest management practices. When used with sophisticated software, images collected from drones improve operational forest planning, assess inventory, monitor illegal activities, assess an area’s health, and allow land owners to quickly respond to weather damage.

Drones also help with reforestation. Replanting forests by hand has always been a time consuming, expensive, and arduous task; but drone technology offers a unique solution to address these problems. They can be equipped with seed pods and fly over an area and drop seedlings. The opportunities for drones to improve sustainable forest management practices are plentiful.

Future of Forestry

The future of North American forestry is optimistic. Forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere and play an important role in removing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. North American harvesters have developed methods that reduce their carbon footprint during the harvesting process, demonstrating their commitment to the cause.

United Nations member states in developing countries could look to North American practices to implement best strategies. Many obstacles must be overcome in order for the world’s forests to be certified. Moreover, the international community appears supportive and technological advancements could streamline some of these tasks. The future of forestry will likely include computer software and drone technology to improve replanting efficiencies and continuously monitor forest health.



This concludes the last of a five-part series on forests and climate change. Previous article topics are listed below:

The Carbon Cycle
How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint
How Forest Certification Non-Profits Were Born

REDD+ and UN-REDD Programs

REDD+ and UN-REDD Programs

The greatest success of the 2015 Paris Agreement is that 195 nations agreed to take action against climate change. Their goal is for all participating countries to be carbon neutral between 2050 and 2100. The United Nations estimates that deforestation and loss of forests account for 17 percent of carbon emissions. This goal cannot be met without addressing the deforestation and forest degradation occurring outside of North America. For more information, refer to the UN’s Global Forest Resources Assessment of 2015 in the resources below.


Two programs that support this agenda are the REDD+ and UN-REDD programs. Their goal is to incentivize developing countries to sustainably manage their forests in order to reduce climate change. According to the United Nations website, “REDD+ incentivizes developing countries to keep their forests standing by offering results-based payments for actions to reduce or remove forest carbon emissions.” There are three phases toward program implementation.

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

1. Develop a strategy supported by grants
2. Implement strategy supported by grants to receive payments for carbon reductions
3. Continue implementation of REDD+ strategy

According to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which exists to assist countries in their REDD+ program efforts, there are 47 developing countries participating in REDD+ (18 in Africa, 18 in Central and South America, and 11 in Asia).


However, not all countries have the infrastructure in place to jump into the REDD+ program. The UN-REDD program assists countries to develop the capacities needed to meet the REDD+ requirements, “so that they can qualify to receive results based payments under the convention.”

One difference between the REDD+ and UN-REDD programs is that the UN-REDD program works more closely with indigenous people and communities that depend on their forests for survival.

Case Study: Zambia

According to the UN-REDD’s Project Factsheet, Zambia has 50 million hectares of forests and loses between 250,000 to 300,000 hectares of forests per year. Charcoal production is the primary cause of deforestation in Zambia. It’s used as fuel for cooking and heating in most Zambian homes. Because it’s widely used, demand for it is constant. Their economy depends on charcoal because there’s already the infrastructure in place to produce it with the wood the forest supplies. One of the primary goals of the program is to steer their economy away from charcoal.

This is not without its challenges. It’s estimated that 75% of Zambians are without electricity and developing an alternative energy source will take time. However, with strong support from the international community, United Nations staff and supporters are hopeful that countries like Zambia can reduce their carbon emissions by preserving and sustainably managing their forests through these programs.

As of October 2026, there are 64 participating countries in the UN-REDD program.



This is the fourth of a five-part series on forests and climate change. Previous article topics are listed below:

The Carbon Cycle
How Foresters Limit Their Carbon Footprint
How Forest Certification Non-Profits Were Born

Coming Next:
The Future of Forestry

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