SilviaTerra Closes $4.4M Seed Round Led by USV and Version One Ventures
Max Nova
Max Nova
8 January, 2021 min read

For early access to NCAPX, our data-driven forest carbon marketplace:
Carbon buyers, contact us at
Landowners looking to sell forest carbon, contact us at

Announcing our Seed Round

SilviaTerra is America’s leader in precision forestry and the developer of Basemap, the only high-resolution map of the sizes and species of trees on every acre of forest in America.

We’re on a mission  to create real, immediate, scalable, and efficient climate impact by empowering every landowner and every acre to participate in forest carbon markets.

SilviaTerra’s Basemap is the first high-resolution forest inventory of the US

We’re building the Natural Capital Exchange (NCAPX), a forest carbon marketplace, to connect corporate buyers with carbon credits generated from the world’s largest and smallest forest owners.  NCAPX democratizes access to forest carbon markets and creates a real and immediate increase in the carbon stored in our planet’s forests. This new approach to forest carbon is made possible by the unprecedented transparency, quality, and scale of SilviaTerra’s continuous forest monitoring and measurement.

To accelerate our ambitious and urgent mission, we’re thrilled to announce the close of a $4.4M seed financing round co-led by Union Square Ventures (announcement) and Version One Ventures (announcement), and joined by other funds and private investors including Marc BenioffBen SilbermannMark TercekScribble VenturesGratitude RailroadAlpha EdisonCoFound PartnersCRCM, and others.

Learn more about our story and our vision for the future of forests below.

Our Founding Story

SilviaTerra’s origins trace back to the woods of northern Alabama where our CEO Zack Parisa grew up. From childhood, he was obsessed with the natural world and knew he wanted to be a forester by the time he was 13.

From forestry training at Mississippi State to a graduate degree at the Yale School of Forestry, Zack’s education in statistics, ecology, and economics took him all over the globe.  He worked with forests and communities in the US South, Armenia, Bolivia, and Brazil.  In each place he saw how communities depend on their local forests to provide timber, fuelwood, wildlife habitat, water purification, hillside stabilization, and many other benefits.

Zack in 2007 helping an Armenian village develop a sustainable forest management plan

Again and again, Zack saw communities struggle to achieve balance in their forests and plan for a better future.  The classic saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”  Yet almost none of the communities had accurate or up to date maps to inform their forest management.

Better forest management required better data, so Zack went to work.  At the Yale School of Forestry, he invented and patented a way to combine machine learning, satellite imagery, and field measurements to determine the sizes and species of trees in every acre of forest.

To get this technology in the hands of forest managers, Zack co-founded SilviaTerra with Yale computer science student Max Nova in 2010.  SilviaTerra won Yale’s environmental business plan prize and our two co-founders began scaling up the core remote sensing technology to cover every region and forest type in the United States.

Winning Yale’s environmental business plan competition is what got SilviaTerra started a decade ago

Over the last ten years, we’ve built a powerhouse team of forestry and machine learning experts to lead the precision forestry revolution.  Many of America’s largest landowners, conservation groups, and state and federal agencies depend on our data to drive forest management and financial decisions worth billions of dollars.  The US Forest Service even awarded SilviaTerra a sole-source contract for using our data to inform nationwide forest pest and pathogen modeling.

Mapping America’s Forests

In 2018, we partnered with Microsoft’s AI for Earth program to create Basemap, the first ever high-resolution forest map of the contiguous United States. Using the Microsoft Azure cloud, we were able to scale up our machine learning technology and process terabytes of satellite imagery.  For the first time, any landowner in America could draw their property on our website and get back a quantitative report about the sizes and species of trees in their forest.

SilviaTerra collaborated with Microsoft’s AI for Earth program to create the first high-resolution map of every acre of forest in the contiguous US

Since then, we’ve gone even further by updating Basemap annually.  We measure every acre every year.

Building the Future of Forest Carbon

We’re now using Basemap to change how forests are valued and managed, starting with carbon.

Carbon sequestration happens in the woods where historically it has been difficult to measure and pay for value. Years ago, pioneering organizations created early standards for forest carbon measurement and monitoring based on the technology available at the time.

While well-intentioned, these standards have been limited in their effectiveness.  Because of the high cost of measurement and monitoring by on-the-ground field crews, conventional forest carbon projects often take two years and $200,000 to get started.  These high costs exclude millions of American landowners from participating in carbon markets.

Further, a lack of transparent, acre-level data has at times resulted in forest carbon projects with questionable climate impact.

Forest measurement has historically been very labor intensive, limiting the growth of forest carbon markets

At SilviaTerra, we bring together data, technology, and forestry know-how to pioneer a data-driven evolution in forest carbon origination.  We’re tackling the limitations of legacy forest carbon projects and creating a scalable supply of forest carbon credits with an unprecedented level of transparency, quality and impact.

Natural Capital Exchange (NCAPX)

Drawing on our decade of experience working in forests across the US, we designed a new forest carbon program (NCAPX) that creates real climate impact and works for every landowner.

Here’s what makes NCAPX unique:

  • Transparency – SilviaTerra is the only company that measures every acre of forest every year.  The depth and frequency of our forest measurement data provides an unparalleled level of transparency to both carbon buyers and forest owners.
  • Quality –  Leveraging our expertise in forest management, we target acres that are actually at risk of being harvested, ensuring that carbon purchases create real change on the landscape.
  • Scale – By eliminating measurement and monitoring costs for landowners, NCAPX democratizes access to forest carbon markets so that every landowner and every acre of forest can be part of the climate solution.
  • Impact – Buyers can source carbon credits from large and small landowners in their community or in their supply chain.  Share data-rich, geospatial stories about how your carbon purchases create real economic, social, and biodiversity impact.

For more details on the design of NCAPX, read our white paper.

Some of the family forest owners who sold forest carbon in our NCAPX 2019 Pennsylvania pilot

In 2019, we took NCAPX from concept to reality in a pilot project funded by Microsoft.  More  than 20 Western Pennsylvania landowners originated forest carbon credits through our pilot.  NCAPX worked for both small family forest owners and large commercial forest managers and the pilot proved that our data-driven market design could fundamentally change forest carbon markets.

Our pilot project demonstrated that NCAPX works well for landowners with 40 acres or 40,000

We’ll be announcing more details about the launch of NCAPX and our anchor buyers and sellers soon.  If you’re interested in early access to the NCAPX program:

Join Us

We’re building the future of forest carbon markets.  Our team of forest biometricians, developers, and climate experts is on a mission to transform the practice of forestry and create real, immediate, scalable, and efficient climate impact.  We’re solving one of the grand challenges of our generation and we’re growing fast.

We’re hiring!

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about the author

Max Nova

Max Nova

Co-Founder and COO
Max Nova co-founded NCX over a decade ago. He built many of the Natural Capital Exchange's core technical systems that power the largest forest carbon projects in the US. Now Max serves as the COO of NCX and helps connect American forest owners with net-zero pioneers like Microsoft. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Max earned a degree in computer science from Yale.