First Large Nonprofit-Owned Working Forest

To help protect and restore these lands, in 2004 the Fund acquired the 23,780-acre Garcia River Forest, the centerpiece of one of the largest river systems on California’s north coast. As a nonprofit owner, we are protecting Garcia from conversion to vineyards or second-home development. By managing Garcia as a sustainable forest, we are able to rebuild commercial timber inventories that would support the local economy and, at the same time, help repay loans taken to acquire in the property, upgrade roads and restore stream conditions for rare and threatened species.

The Nature Conservancy owns a conservation easement on the property, ensuring protection regardless of ownership. Nature Conservancy scientists helped develop the forest’s management plan, conduct forest-carbon research and monitor biodiversity conservation on the property. Keeping the land in production will generate revenue to support ongoing forest and stream restoration work and preserve jobs within the community.

But these towering stands of trees are doing even more—they are also trapping carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change. Redwood forests store more carbon per acre than any other forest type. Sustainable forest management of Garcia River enables the storage of more than 77,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.

In February 2008, Garcia became one of the first forests—and the largest—to receive verification as a source of greenhouse gas reductions under the protocols of the Climate Action Reserve, adopted by the California Air Resources Board in 2007. Garcia now provides some of the most reliable and valid carbon credits in the country to private companies and public organizations seeking to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon finance also provides significant additional support for forestry and restoration activities on the property.

Why This Project Matters

With the purchase of Garcia River Forest, the Fund pioneered a new approach to land conservation that balances environmental restoration and stewardship with the economic imperatives of ownership and the desire to sustain the local timber economy, the lifeblood of this region. We have demonstrated that large, understocked tracts of coastal forest can be returned to ecological and economic viability through patient, adaptive management by a non-profit organization, in partnership with private and public entities and community stakeholders. Our success at Garcia has led to additional projects, totaling more than 70,000 acres of forest owned and managed on the North Coast.  Learn more about our North Coast Forest Conservation Initiative.

Carbon Specifications

  • Standard: Climate Action Reserve, Forest Stewardship Council, and Sustainable Forestry Initiative Certified
  • Auditor: Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)
  • Conservation Partner: The Nature Conservancy, California State Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board
  • Project Design Documents: View the project design documents

Not the Usual Cute & Furry Animals

Learn more

Sustainable Forestry? How Does It Work?

Protecting and maintaining working forests, and the communities that depend on them, remains one of the Fund's top conservation priorities. Watch the video to learn why.

Saving Salmon One Log At A Time

In 2011, the Fund and The Nature Conservancy set out to find ways to improve and restore endangered coho salmon habitat in the Fund's Garcia River Forest. Video by The Nature Conservancy.

Why Do Forests Matter?

At The Conservation Fund, we believe that well-managed forests can be both economically viable and ecologically sustainable, but like all other necessary parts of our national infrastructure, they need to be invested in and maintained. That's why, since 1985, we've protected more than a million forest acres across America. Protecting and maintaining working forests, and the communities that depend on them, remains one of our top conservation priorities.

"Small Change" Can Change the World

At the Garcia River Forest, "small change" from customers who participate in the UPS carbon neutral shipping program—only a few cents per package on average—helps the nonprofit Conservation Fund conserve and then restore the most sensitive areas of the forest, including rivers like Garcia that snake through redwood trees large enough to drive through. Learn more about UPS's sustainability efforts. Video by UPS.