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Carbon Smart Wood Challenge seeks applications

More lumber, less waste: Cities can save money, create jobs and grow urban canopy by using fallen trees for lumber

February 21, 2023  By Cambium Carbon and Cities4Forests

Photo: Cambium Carbon

Cambium Carbon, a climate-tech startup building local regenerative wood supply chains, and Cities4Forests, an initiative led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), have partnered to launch the Carbon Smart Wood Challenge, a climate-impact initiative to help cities reduce waste by processing fallen trees into value-added products such as lumber. This circular economy model not only rethinks waste disposal, but it also serves as a vehicle for job creation and reinvestment in tree canopy regeneration.

The Carbon Smart Wood Challenge seeks cities looking to build or enhance existing wood-utilization programs and infrastructure. Candidate cities should share a vision of reducing wood-waste, innovating in the wood products sector, fostering tree equity, and building a circular economy to enable full, life-cycle management of their urban forest. Selected cities will work with a team of experts to develop actionable solutions to reach their sustainability goals.

The program offers robust technical assistance to cities, including feasibility assessments, community engagement, and implementation roadmaps. Additionally, the program will create peer-peer learning opportunities for cities to establish a community of practitioners and draw from best practices developed around the country. The program team will work with selected cities to match the funding and resources necessary to deploy local wood-utilization initiatives. Applications are now open.

“City staff often struggle to find the internal capacity to get a reuse program off the ground.” said Cambium Carbon CEO Ben Christensen. “The Carbon Smart Wood Challenge was designed to build a national movement toward collective wood reuse, and leverage external resources and expertise toward making our cities more vibrant.”


Each year, 36 million trees fall in US cities. The vast majority are mulched, landfilled, or burned — resulting in as much as 4 billion board feet of marketable lumber wasted. A single board foot of salvaged wood sequesters an average 5.23 lbs CO2e. More effective use of fallen trees, nationally, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 251 million MT CO2e annually.

“Cities have been called ‘our greatest invention.’ They are centers of innovation, engines of economic development, and laboratories for solutions to climate change — as well as one of its greatest drivers,” said Todd Gartner, director of Cities4Forests and the Natural Infrastructure Initiative at WRI. “The Carbon Smart Wood Challenge will help cities reduce costs, create jobs, and funnel resources back to growing healthy urban forests for the benefit of city residents.”

For more information about the Carbon Smart Wood Challenge, visit cambiumcarbon.com/in-the-news/carbon-smart-wood-challenge.

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