In recent decades, the Northern Forest – a 26 million-acre region in northern New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine – has been impacted by forest-based industries that are changing in response to globalization, shifts in investment priorities, climate change, and changing social values.


To help communities adapt to these rapidly evolving conditions and best utilize their resources, the Manomet Center and partners implemented forest health projects under the Northern Forest Investment Zone (NFIZ) Initiative.


The five-year initiative was launched in 2009 by the U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities, which designated the Northern Forest as one of three main forest investment zones in the country. The Endowment committed $2 million to organizations working in the Northern Forest to create regional networks for improving forest health and increasing job and investment opportunities in distressed forest-reliant communities.


Under the coordination of the Northern Forest Center, the Manomet Center and many nonprofit partners implemented projects to help organizations, communities, and businesses find new ways to use, benefit from, and conserve their forest resources.


The Manomet Center’s work focused on understanding how the carbon market could provide forest landowners in the region with an alternate revenue stream while providing local, place-based carbon offsets. The development of Manomet’s Clear Water Carbon Fund (CWCF) – a voluntary carbon reduction program that allows people and businesses to purchase trees to be planted by community groups along deforested riverbanks – provided a way to understand the challenges and opportunities of the forest carbon projects in the Northern Forest region in greater detail. 


“During the period of the Northern Forest Investment Zone Initiative, the CWCF planted over 2,000 trees in four watersheds, which over time will remove one million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, filter pollutants to keep water clean, create wildlife habitats and provide recreational opportunities,” said Manomet Program Manager Ethel Wilkerson. “This engaged communities in the protection of their resources and provided $30,000 in financial benefits to our local partners.”


Manomet scientists also developed a Forest Carbon Forecaster Tool to help landowners evaluate opportunities for selling carbon credits from their land.


Coastal Enterprises, Inc., Forest Guild, Trust for Public Land, and Biomass Energy Resource Center were also partners in the initiative. Other projects focused on developing the use of community-scale biomass, advancing innovation in wood product manufacturing, and encouraging community forests and forestry.


 “The NFIZ project brought together organizations with expertise on a wide variety of subjects that do not usually collaborate,” Wilkerson said. “It was rewarding to see how individual projects with a specific focus – expanding markets for locally sourced wood products, expanding the size and capacity of community forests, or exploring ecosystem service markets – could come together to deliver cumulative impacts to the economies and communities of the Northern Forest region.” 


Learn more about the Clear Water Carbon Fund and how you can become involved at


Learn more about the Northern Forest Investment Initiative here.


– Haley Jordan