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Forest Bonds may provide a way to support fire prevention

Managing public forests in ways that prevent wildfires could save millions of dollars in future fire-emergency costs. But restoring forests is expensive, and limited public budgets emphasize short-term disaster spending rather than long-term management. A private firm is testing a new model that they say could fill the short-term budgetary needs to get forest restoration practices up and running.“The value of forest restoration oftentimes exceeds the cost,” said Leigh Madeira, one of Blue Forest Conservation’s founders. “But that doesn’t mean that the beneficiaries have the capital to pay for needed restoration projects.”Blue Forest says they’ve come up with a way for communities to use that future increased value or cost savings of forests to pay for restoration activities today.Blue Forest’s funding model is to collect private capital through a “forest resilience bond,” based on the money the forest owner is likely to make later, either through the reduced chance of forest fires or through additional earnings from forest products like lumber. Blue Forest then helps to coordinate forest restoration activities with business partners on the ground, often small, local enterprises who do the actual restoration work. The beneficiary of the restoration, whether a federal agency like the Forest Service or a publicly-owned water utility company, then pays for the services on a long-term contracted rate.

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Daily Yonder