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December 12, 2019

How the Capital Markets Can Conserve America's Forests

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

As gridlock persists in addressing our nation’s critical infrastructure challenges—America’s roads, bridges and railways—a similar, yet vastly underreported set of challenges exist with our natural infrastructure: namely, the loss of our large, privately owned working forests.

Working forests provide us with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They support species diversity and generate more than 8.5 million jobs in the forest products and outdoor recreation industries. Perhaps even more important, they are an essential part of our nation’s efforts to address climate change, sequestering 12-15% of the United States’ annual carbon emissions.

As a country, we need to keep these forests intact and create a pathway for their permanent conservation as sustainable, working forests—and fast, write Robert Bonnie, executive in residence at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and Matthew McKenna, who leads the Rural Opportunity Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. In an op-ed for RealClearMarkets, Bonnie and McKenna say the power of capital markets to leverage philanthropy and government action can help achieve permanent, tangible results on the ground at the speed and magnitude needed.