Summary

Washington Conservation Action (WCA) is looking for a consultant to lead credible equity and impact evaluation for a 5-year project focused on climate-smart forestry in Pierce County, Washington.

Organizational Overview

WCA is a statewide environmental advocacy organization that advances environmental policies and pushes for actions that equitably address climate pollution, restore Puget Sound, sustain our state’s forests, and protect our democracy. We develop, advocate, and defend policies that ensure environmental progress and justice by centering and amplifying the voices of the most impacted communities.

Background

In 2023, Washington Conservation Action (WCA) and seven partners were awarded a 5 year, $25 million USDA Climate Smart Commodities grant to develop a climate smart wood economy in the Pacific Northwest. This project supports two pressing needs: a growing demand for climate-smart wood from the architecture, engineering, and construction community, as well as the increased recognition of climate-smart forestry as a powerful tool to mitigate climate change. 

Together, with Pierce Conservation District (PCD), WCA is advancing this effort specifically in Pierce County by supporting the growth of a countywide climate-smart wood supply chain. Our project will connect climate-smart wood producers in Pierce County, namely small forest landowners (SFLOs), Tribal Nations, and community forest managers, with local mills, wood manufacturers, and downstream buyers who seek climate-smart wood products. In doing so, we intend to provide local benefits to the environment, community, and economy across three dimensions: mitigation, adaptation, and equity. 

Climate-smart forestry helps to mitigate climate change by increasing carbon storage and sequestration in forests and wood products, and by reducing emissions from forest operations. Our partners at Ecotrust have developed a methodology to measure carbon benefits and are leading efforts to quantify and communicate these impacts. Though adaptation and equity are well documented benefits of climate-smart forestry, there are fewer methodologies to support evaluation in these areas. Adaptation includes ecosystem benefits that help to build ecological resilience in the face of a changing climate. Equity addresses issues of climate justice, community well-being, and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples. To be sustainable, forestry must address how social and economic benefits are distributed among landowners, workers, and communities. 

Landowners enrolled in our program will be implementing many different climate-smart forestry practices depending on factors such as their management goals and forest type. Example practices include first-entry commercial thinning, brush management, prescribed burning, climate-adapted species planting, tribal first foods habitat restoration, and improved slash management. 

Please note that this RFP is focused on equity. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for adaptation, we have posted a separate RFP here.

Objectives of the work

To understand the true impact of this project, we must identify metrics and develop frameworks and tools to measure equity. These data will help us evaluate the effectiveness of the program and identify areas for improvement. We are looking for a consultant to develop a credible approach to impact evaluation that addresses the following questions:

Community Well-Being:

  • One of our goals for this project is to improve community well-being. How can we measure the impact to community well-being at the end of the 5-year project using the metrics we will be recording as part of the project?  What additional metrics should we consider to better understand our impact in this area? We are particularly interested in impact evaluation related to equity, environmental justice, and rural livelihoods.
    • Currently, we plan to record the following metrics:
      • Number of acres treated with funding from our cost-share program
      • Number of historically underserved producers enrolled 
      • Amount of funding distributed including amount to historically underserved producers
      • Number of jobs created to do the on-the ground forestry work. This will likely include contractors, loggers, restoration specialists, landscapers, forestry consultants, conservation crews.
  • Developing a local climate-smart wood supply chain is both a strategy to address climate change and a way to promote local economic development through a climate-smart forest sector. Which baseline metrics should we record now to be able to successfully evaluate the impact to local economic development at the end of the 5-year grant?

Markets:

  • How can we convey value to both potential landowner participants and to potential markets about the benefits of climate-smart wood to local communities?
  • How has our project impacted local adoption and uptake of a climate smart wood economy, including the perception of Pierce County as a hub for climate smart wood products among the local architecture, engineering, and construction sector?

Program Evaluation:

  • We plan to evaluate the success of our project based in large part on the impacts to community well-being and markets, as described above. Are there any other elements of program evaluation we should consider towards the goal of understanding local impacts?
  • What framework should we use to integrate the results from the above sections as well as the non-carbon impacts to forest health to understand the overall impact of the program?

Deliverables

Consultant will produce two deliverables: 1) outline of a credible, feasible approach to evaluation of the community well-being and market impacts, 2) a framework to integrate this approach into an evaluation of the overall impact of the program. The approach and framework will be summarized in a report and shared with WCA. WCA will provide feedback on the report, and the consultant will incorporate this feedback into the final version of the report.

1) Section 1 of the report proposing an approach to evaluating community well-being and market impacts will include the following:

  • 1-2 page summary of the overall approach to measuring community well-being and markets, including how this approach would help us understand impacts to equity, environmental justice, and rural livelihoods. 
  • Prioritized list of the 2-3 most relevant impacts to community well-being and the recommended approach to measure them effectively.
    • Indicate which of these benefits would require additional data collection and the type of data required
  • Summary of how we should evaluate impacts to the local economy at the end of the 5-year grant including an approach to measuring baselines before project intervention. 
  • Summary of how we should evaluate impacts to adoption and uptake of climate-smart wood in Pierce County including impacts to the perception of Pierce County as a hub for climate smart wood products. This could include quantitative and/or qualitative methods.

2) Section 2 of the report proposing a framework to evaluate the overall impact of the program will include the following:

  • Summary of any additional elements of program evaluation we should consider towards the goal of understanding local impacts (beyond the impacts to community well-being and markets identified in section 1).
  • Framework suggesting how to integrate results from each of the above impacts to evaluate the overall impact of the program. 

Ideally, the consultant would be interested in conducting a final analysis at the end of the project in 2028 based on the approach and framework proposed in this report. We plan to publish out a separate RFP in the future for this final analysis. 

Application Process

  • Complete the following:
  • Prepare the following information for the intake form:
    • Organization/company name, physical mailing address and EIN#
    • Project lead name, job title, email address, phone number
  • Complete the intake form. Upload completed application and budget documents as described in the intake form. Application materials must be submitted no later than the end of business day on 7/26/2024.

Scoring Criteria

Projects will be scored on the following criteria. A total of 35 points are available. 

CriteriaPoints
Overall approach is summarized thoughtfully and concisely. Approach is clear, realistic, and credible.5
List of 2-3 anticipated impacts is included, along with a high-level summary of the anticipated methods you would use to evaluate each.  5
Approach to measuring economic impacts is clear, realistic, and credible. Summary includes how you would approach baseline evaluation.3
Approach to measuring adoption and uptake of climate smart wood is clear, realistic, and credible. Summary includes a brief description of the methods you anticipate using. 3
Approach to program evaluation is clear, realistic, and credible and includes a summary of how you anticipate integrating results from the above categories to evaluate the overall impact of the program. 3
Proposal demonstrates a qualified team that has successfully completed projects with quantifiable outcomes. If the team history on comparable work is limited, describe how the team plans to be successful, despite significant applied experience. 3
Proposed timeline is achievable and the included work elements demonstrate a commitment to completing high quality work in a timely manner. 4
Proposed budget demonstrates a commitment to fair compensation and efficient use of funds.4
Citations are included for at least 5 other relevant studies, examples, or methodologies. Short annotations indicate how this reference will be used in your work.  5

Your donation ensures a sustainable future.