NORTHAMPTON, MA (News release) -- International Paper (IP) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) are helping landowners in Texas restore and manage their forests through IP's Forestlands Stewards partnership. These efforts will benefit drinking water supplies and wildlife habitat, improve recreational opportunities, and support forest sector jobs.
With support from Forestlands Stewards, the Texas Longleaf Team and their partners have worked with private landowners to establish more than 4,700 acres of longleaf. More than 2.8 million trees were planted and an additional 37,000 acres of existing longleaf were improved and maintained with prescribed fire and other management treatments.
Prescribed burn certification workshops show landowners how fire is an essential forest management tool for reducing hazardous fuels and creating better wildlife habitat. Fire suppression, conversion to other forest types, and forest conversion to other land uses, like agriculture and housing, have reduced longleaf acreage to less than 5% of its historical range.
"Watersheds in the Southern Region are very important for drinking water supplies and are at a high threat of reduced water yield because of a changing climate and potential land use changes. Providing forest owners in Texas and across the South with options to keep their land in forests can help keep surface drinking water supplies plentiful and clean," says Jon Scott, Program Director of Southern Forests at NFWF.
Water quality is a critical measure of success
Water quality and quantity is a key gauge of the health of local ecosystems and the success of smart land management. Healthy forests filter pollutants entering water supplies. And it's not just about water for drinking. It's about the economy and jobs. Surface water already accounts for about two-thirds of the existing supply for municipal, manufacturing, electricity, and mining demands.
"Too often, we lose sight of the critical ecosystem services that sustainably managed forests provide. Protecting water is one of the most important things people can do-we aren't making any more of it. That's why landowners like me are excited that the Forestlands Stewards partnership is helping us improve the water supply," says Amanda Haralson, Chair of The Longleaf Alliance, and an active member of the Texas Longleaf Team.
The mission of The Longleaf Alliance is to ensure a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem through partnerships, landowner assistance and science-based education and outreach. Forestlands Stewards is supporting the Longleaf Alliance and other partner efforts to engage private landowners.
Ecological services from forests that we all depend on
One of the major strengths of the Forestlands Stewards partnership is its ability to bring people and organizations together to share ideas. A good example is the Savannah River Clean Water Fund. The Fund includes IP, conservation groups, utilities, and county and city governments-many of whom are Forestland Stewards partners.
It's a model that could work in Texas with longleaf. The Fund is showing that conserving upstream forests in the Savannah River Basin can not only reduce downstream pollution but can do it at less cost than expensive water treatment facilities.
"We are finding more and more in Texas and across the [US] Southeast that private forest owners are interested in supporting ecosystem services like water quality and biodiversity. We need to keep working together through partnerships like Forestland Stewards to recognize and support private landowners who use prescribed fire and other techniques for public benefits," says Jenny Sanders, Coordinator of the Texas Longleaf Team.
Forestland Stewards investments
NFWF and IP have invested more than $2.7 million in longleaf pine restoration and management in east Texas since 2013.
Our investments help provide landowners with options to keep their forests as forests and choose native longleaf where appropriate, which benefits water and wildlife.
Studies show that longleaf pine, managed with prescribed fire, typically uses about 15% less water than a typical mixed pine-hardwood forest with no fire.
About the Forestland Stewards Partnership
International Paper and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation formed the Forestland Stewards partnership in 2013 to conserve and restore southern forestlands, which comprise some of the United States' most iconic landscapes. The partnership supports projects to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations, and protect watersheds-while at the same time promoting and supporting working forests in 12 states across the South. Learn more: Forestland Stewards.
About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global supplier of renewable fiber-based products. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable worldwide commerce, and pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal care products that promote health and wellness. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 38,000 colleagues globally. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2021 were $19.4 billion. See how we're building a better future for people, the planet, and our company at internationalpaper.com/Vision-2030.