NORTHAMPTON, MA (News release) -- International Paper and The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the renewal of their Forestland Stewards Partnership for another five-year period, where IP is committing $10 million for wildlife and working forest conservation. The award-winning Forestland Stewards Partnership (FSP), one of the most effective public-private forest conservation efforts in the United States, will continue to help catalyze targeted investments that benefit wildlife, people and the planet. Now entering its second decade, FSP has funded 156 projects across twelve states that will restore, enhance or protect more than 1.2 million acres of forest habitat once all projects are completed.
Past projects have targeted four specific landscapes in the United States - the coastal plain forests of North and South Carolina; the Cumberland Plateau region in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia; the piney woods on the Louisiana-Texas border; and the seven-state region of the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, which includes portions of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Taking the effective conservation successes and capacity building within these landscapes, International Paper and NFWF will expand FSP's geographic footprint to include the coastal plain and piedmont forests of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia.
These forests were selected because they represent some of the most biologically diverse natural areas in the world, providing habitat for numerous at-risk, threatened and endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, the gopher tortoise, the swallow-tailed kite, the red-headed woodpecker, songbirds, freshwater mussels and rare plants, as well as game species like northern bobwhite and wild turkey. In addition, these forests are a significant source of wood products that are important to local economies.
"Sustainably managed forests are the starting point for stewardship values at IP," said International Paper Chairman and CEO Mark Sutton. "As we look at all we have accomplished in partnership with NFWF in the last decade, I am confident that this expanded collaboration will continue to promote responsible forest stewardship and ensure healthy and productive forest ecosystems for future generations."
The Forestland Stewards Partnership began in 2013, when International Paper made its first five-year commitment of $7.5 million to restore, protect and enhance Southern pine, oak and savanna woodlands across eight southern states. In 2017, NFWF and International Paper announced they renewed the Partnership and International Paper pledged to increase its contribution to $10 million over an additional five years. This renewed commitment brought the company's total pledge to $17.5 million over 10 years.
FSP will exceed its original ten-year goal, with more than 1.2 million acres restored, enhanced and protected once all projects are completed. Combined with the 600,000-acre goal for this third five-year agreement, International Paper and NFWF will have helped conserve over 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat across the Southeast.
"The Forestland Stewards Partnership is a model for landscape-scale forest conservation in the United States," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "The significant forest habitat and wildlife improvements achieved over the past decade are a testament to the staying power of International Paper's commitment, and the impact of this long-standing public-private partnership. Renewing this ten-year partnership for another five years enables NFWF to confidently approach additional partners, achieve more impactful outcomes and support working forests and local economies."
FSP works with private landowners, government agencies and conservation groups on strategic forest restoration through tree plantings, habitat enhancement strategies such as prescribed burning, and protection from land use conversion of critical tracts of land within priority wildlife areas. FSP pools conservation investments to benefit fish and wildlife and to assist landowners in improving forest management practices around "working" forests, giving landowners additional management options, and often becoming a critical variable in keeping forests as forest. And, through its competitive grant process, FSP has leveraged International Paper's investment for a total conservation impact of approximately $192 million.
For additional information on the Forestland Stewards Partnership, please click here.