ACRE’s Mission: Growing Trees and Hope 

Written by Lauren R. Giannini

“By growing trees for carbon credits, we are giving conservation purpose and capitalism a heart,” shares Chandler Van Voorhis, ACRE Investment Management, LLC’s co-founder and managing partner. 

Founded in The Plains, Virginia, in 2003, Advanced Carbon Restored Ecosystem, or “ACRE,” is all about putting a price and value on trees, one of the world’s most important resources in combating climate change. Van Voorhis says, “Nature has the answers, and we need to understand that there is genius to nature. What we are doing at ACRE harnesses the principles of nature to grow world-class forests. Trees are mother nature’s technology for repairing the past.”

“We are on a mission at ACRE,” Van Voorhis adds. “We need to clean up the consequences of human technology which began in 1750 with the Industrial Revolution and pushed us to where we are now with the climate crisis. At ACRE, we know the answers are found in nature which is still the most effective and efficient method to remove emissions.”

Here are the basics: each acre is planted with 600 trees. Half are rapid-growing, native pioneering species (i.e. cottonwoods) whose dappled shade protects the slower-growing, mast-producing hardwoods. Their spacing helps to train the hardwoods to grow upward, not outward. Why hardwoods? They are the most biodiverse forest ecosystem and the best producers of clean air because of their height, trunk girth, root systems, and potential for creating a leafy canopy. 

Leaves play a vital role in maintain a healthy atmosphere because they breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale pure, clean oxygen. Every tree — in woodlands, forests, and even your yard — helps to clean the air when allowed to grow naturally. 

ACRE’s GreenTrees is the largest carbon credit reforestation project in the world in terms of credit issuance, a remarkable achievement based in Hunt Country. And they regularly receive requests to share their expertise internationally. ACRE’s vision unites scale (measurable value), restoration, ecosystem repair, and climate impact in their mission to plant 500 million trees.

The rewards of cleaner air, reduced carbon, cleaner water, and restoration of wildlife habitats also include profit. ACRE’s landowners earn carbon credits as their trees clean the air and nutrient credits as the root systems of the same trees clean the groundwater runoff feeding the bay. The more acreage an owner signs up to plant trees on, the greater the owner’s financial reward. It’s win-win all the way.

ACRE already manages more than 130,000 acres with more than 42 million trees for 550 landowner partners. And the firm manages portfolios ranging from seven to more than 3,500 acres. Van Voorhis recently signed a long-term contract to restore 10,000 acres. ACRE is working toward reforesting two million acres as soon as possible, a goal that can only be achieved with the support of the community. 

It’s an intriguing concept, growing trees to meet the demands of corporations that need to offset their emissions. Consider data centers where one cell phone produces 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and multiply that by every digital device in the world. The resulting emissions are a frightening menace to the health of our planet and every form of life on it.

For their part, ACRE Investment Management offers a team whose expertise covers the gamut of conservation, ecology, silviculture, education, finance, history, and aerospace defense technology, as well as practical field experience. 

Van Voorhis credits his 26 years of conservation experience to the late Magalen O. Bryant for hiring him — and inspiring him — to stop Disney from building a theme park in Haymarket, Virginia, on the historical grounds of Bull Run Battlefield Park. 

“Maggie has been an inspiration through this entire reforestation operation, to me and to Rob Banner (ACRE’s senior special projects officer),” Van Voorhis says. “Maggie used to say she wished she were 20 years younger because she’d be right there alongside us planting trees. We have the eagle trophy awarded to Maggie for her numerous conservation achievements, including her efforts to save a virgin cypress swamp in Mississippi. When you’re there, you can feel the oxygen.”

As more corporations are willing to take on the fight to reverse climate change — especially after last summer’s extreme weather caused one-in-three Americans to suffer — ACRE is poised to expand. 

However, at ACRE, it’s about more than making money. “Our aim at ACRE Investment Management is for landowners to look beyond the revenue and believe that one day this forest or that woodland that was planted will be valuable — not just financially or environmentally, but also spiritually.” ML

For more information on the work of ACRE Investment Management or to see how you can be a part of their mission, visit green-trees.com or call Rob Banner at (540) 253 -2509. 

This article first appeared in the April 2022 Issue.

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