June 26, 2024

The Conservation Fund Protects 1 Million Acres of At-Risk Forestland in the United States

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Conservation Fund announced today it has protected more than 1 million acres of working forests across the nation. This milestone marks a major achievement in the effort to solve one of land conservation’s greatest challenges, all while underscoring the tremendous value of TCF’s innovative vision for forest conservation.

Working forests are sustainably harvested in support of quality jobs. They provide us the products we use every day as well as the homes in which we live. Working forests are essential to our future, yet experts anticipate losing as many as 13 million acres in the coming decades. That loss equates to burning over 2 trillion pounds of coal.

“The loss of America’s great, vast forestland is a threat to our way of life,” said Larry Selzer, TCF’s president and CEO. “Our Working Forest Fund®, and our unique version of conservation, doesn’t separate land from local communities or remove it from local economies. Instead, it keeps them intact and managed sustainably. This approach allows us to protect all of the benefits working forests provide to communities, local economies and nature.”

The 1 million acres protected milestone moves TCF closer to its stated goal of protecting 5 million acres of America’s working forests by 2035. The need is acute and urgent. The continued loss of forestland has far-reaching implications to the nation’s communities, climate, water quality, recreation opportunities, and the many species that call forestland home.

  • Working forests sustain economic productivity for neighboring communities as well as hunting, fishing and other recreation and open space opportunities for millions of visitors.
  • Working forests provide more than 2 million U.S.-based jobs. These jobs will be lost as land is converted to other uses or sold into smaller and smaller parcels.
  • Forests sequester over half a billion metric tons of CO2 per year, cleaning our air and helping fight climate change.
  • Forests across the United States also filter fresh water that 150 million Americans in 68,000 communities consume every day.


TCF’s journey to 1 million acres began more than a decade ago. With early and pivotal support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to establish the Working Forest Fund, TCF identified millions of acres of at-risk forest land that was likely to be sold at auction, broken into smaller parcels and destined for commercial development. By strategically targeting high-impact opportunities the Working Forest Fund has protected iconic forests such as the North Coast Forest in California (74,000 acres), Clarion Junction in Pennsylvania (32,000 acres) and Pelican River Forest in Wisconsin (70,000 acres), among many others. The Richard King Mellon Foundation continues to be a staunch partner and philanthropic leader in protecting working forests.

“This milestone moment in our nation’s journey to protect forestlands that are essential to our future is one we are proud to be part of,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We support this important work because The Conservation Fund and its project partners are making a real difference for all future generations of Americans. We are thankful to everyone who helped us reach this moment and we eagerly look forward to the next million acres being protected.”

“In partnership with the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we designed an entirely new approach to conservation,” said Selzer. “This approach has embraced the tools of the marketplace and deployed them in service of conservation, where the product we deliver is permanently conserved working forests alongside the jobs and the tax base that rural communities need to survive.”

To date, The Conservation Fund’s Working Forest Fund has secured over 70 forests across 21 states. These properties encompass invaluable habitat, including over 2,000 miles of streams and 150,000 acres of wetlands. Many forests support threatened or endangered species, such as the Red Hills salamander in Alabama and the Northern-spotted owl in California.

This protected forest land provides significant benefits. The 1 million acres TCF has protected represents $850 million in annual economic activity, more than 10,000 American jobs and more than 250 million tons of CO2 equivalent stored, which is comparable to the emissions from 27 billion gallons of gasoline consumed. The protected forests provide sustainably harvested timber and recreation space for hunters and anglers, campers, trail riders and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“Our role in forest conservation is unique,” said Brian Dangler, director of The Conservation Fund’s Working Forest Fund. “We identify forests of high conservation value, manage them sustainably, then secure public and private funding to permanently protect them. We ensure these forests return to the private market, forever protected as working forests.”

In 2024 and 2025, the Working Forest Fund aims to protect more than 150,000 acres.

About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit www.conservationfund.org.