The research revealed that effectively addressing these barriers can help nurseries meet the demand for more seedlings. Most (76%) of surveyed nurseries are willing, for example, to expand their infrastructure if funding, supply-demand mismatches and other constraints are addressed.
Ramping Up Reforestation in the United States: A Guide for Policymakers, a new report from American Forests, lays out solutions that can be put in place by the private and public sectors to address the nurseries challenge.
Nature-based carbon removal is one place for the private sector to start. It is a way for entities to meet the “net zero” commitments they have made. Growth in reforestation projects funded with carbon finance will send market signals to nurseries and landowners to grow and plant more trees. This will ripple through the reforestation pipeline.
Within government, a federal infrastructure policy package that includes funding for nursery development and tree planting projects could be created. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development business loan guarantees could help nurseries grow to meet coming demands. The REPLANT Act — introduced in March 2020 — would remove the antiquated $30 million cap on the Reforestation Trust Fund, which uses revenues from tariffs on foreign wood imports to reforest land in national forests.
For private land, such as family-owned forests and marginal pastureland, the USDA could reinvigorate Farm Bill programs to promote tree planting for conservation. This would bring more seedling orders to nurseries and planting projects to private landowners.
The Biden administration’s proposal to create a jobs program, the Civilian Climate Corps, also would help. If created, it would be a means to train young people for environmentally-friendly careers, such as forestry.
A stable climate – and so much more – is at stake. Implementing these solutions is an important step to creating healthy forests for this and future generations.