Forestland Stewards Initiative Will Restore Southern Forests, Protect Critical Habitats and Support Local Economies
WASHINGTON, D.C. March 7—International Paper today announced a $7.5 million gift to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create a pioneering partnership to conserve and restore southern forestlands that represent some of America’s most iconic landscapes, critical habitats for endangered wildlife and jobs for one million workers. The Forestland Stewards initiative expects to generate an additional $22.5 million through collaborative efforts, expanding the original gift to an on-the-ground conservation impact of $30 million.
The partnership aims to restore, protect and enhance 200,000 acres of forests across eight southern states—the low country of North and South Carolina, the Cumberland plateau in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, and the piney woods on the Louisiana-Texas border. International Paper has nine mills and several other facilities located in these regions, affording IP employees an opportunity for hands-on conservation contributions in their local areas.
“Forest stewardship has been a part of our company’s DNA for 115 years,” said International Paper’s Chairman and CEO John Faraci. “With this partnership we can continue that commitment to protect and restore landscapes for generations to come.”
“This public-private partnership is a 21st century model for conserving and expanding America’s most vulnerable natural areas,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of conservation projects. “The goal is to enhance and connect forest systems to create seamless habitats for wildlife and more sustainable forests to support local economies.”
The Southern pine, oak and savanna woodlands of the three regions were selected for the project because they represent some of the most biologically diverse natural areas in the world and are a significant source of manufacturing jobs in several southern states.
The multi-state project is designed to:
• Bolster the populations of threatened species including the Louisiana black bear, red cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, songbirds, pine snake, mussels and rare plants.
• Improve management of logging and reforestation on both public and private forests to help support and grow the one million good paying jobs and other economic benefits of southern forests.
• Enhance water and air quality through healthier forests.
International Paper and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will work with a variety of stakeholders—private landowners, government agencies and conservation groups—to develop science-based conservation business plans to guide investments that conserve and expand the ecologically important forestlands and coastal savannas of the southeast.
The project will seek to establish protected wildlife corridors between existing hubs of forestland and assist landowners in improving commercial and environmental management practices for “working” forests.
NFWF and IP will work with partners to solicit and award competitive grants in each of the three targeted geographies of this new partnership. Grant decisions will be based on the ability of the applicant to implement strategies that simultaneously achieve habitat, healthy forest and economic objectives and result in measurable outcomes.
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers, complemented by xpedx, the company's North American distribution company. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 70,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2012 were $28 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit internationalpaper.com.
Established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) sustains, restores and enhances the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.1 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.