New Funding to Conserve and Enhance Forestland in Cumberland Plateau

International Paper Supports Public-Private Partnership to Restore Southern Forests and Protect Critical Habitats

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 24, 2013 — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE: IP) today announced $250,000 in grants to support forestland restoration throughout the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee and Alabama. Three projects in the region have been selected to receive the grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and International Paper. In all, International Paper is committing $7.5 million over five years to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations and protect watersheds in eight states across the Southeastern U.S. 

David Kiser, vice president of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability for International Paper in Memphis, said of the grants, “The Cumberland Plateau is an environmental and cultural treasure we must protect. As a global company with headquarters here in Tennessee, we’re pleased to support the work of The Nature Conservancy, the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore our native forest ecosystems, particularly the shortleaf pine savanna that has been greatly diminished in Tennessee and Alabama.”

Established in March 2013, the Forestland Stewards Initiative is a pioneering partnership that was created to conserve and restore southern forestlands that represent some of America’s most iconic landscapes, critical habitats for endangered wildlife and economic opportunities. NFWF and International Paper are working with a variety of stakeholders—private landowners, government agencies and conservation groups—to develop science-based conservation business plans that will guide the restoration of  more than 200,000 acres of southern pine, oak and woodlands and their associated freshwater systems. The initiative has launched conservation projects in three regions:  the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia; the low country of North and South Carolina; and the piney woods on the Louisiana-Texas border. 

“Our exciting new partnership with IP is advancing conservation in some of the most biologically diverse and culturally iconic landscapes in America,” explained David O’Neill, vice president for NFWF’s Conservation Programs. “The grants announced today reflect IP’s commitment to healthy forests and they will lead to on-the-ground improvements that benefit fish and wildlife and the habitats on which they rely.”

The three organizations selected to receive funding to support forestland restoration in the Cumberland Plateau are The Nature Conservancy, The University of Tennessee and the USDA Forest Service.

“The Nature Conservancy, along with our partners, is really excited about the opportunity that NFWF and International Paper have provided us,” said Alex Wyss, director of Conservation Programs at the Nature Conservancy’s East Tennessee Program Office. “Because of this funding, we are able to restore shortleaf pine and a forest that is part of Tennessee’s heritage. These trees are important for both our wildlife and our economy and this grant affords us the opportunity to begin restoring this forest at a meaningful scale,” he said. 

About the Grants

Partner Organization: The Nature Conservancy
Title: Shortleaf Restoration in the Cumberland Plateau (TN)
Objective: Restore shortleaf pine woodland/savannah on public and private lands and perform outreach to private landowners.
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Description: The Nature Conservancy will restore shortleaf pine woodland/savannah on public and private lands and conduct private landowner outreach to springboard shortleaf restoration on the Cumberland Plateau, achieving approximately 2,200 acres of shortleaf restoration. The project will significantly raise the profile of shortleaf restoration on the Plateau, the biodiversity of which is unparalleled elsewhere within temperate deciduous forest regions of North America.
Project Partners: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Partner Organization: USDA Forest Service
Title: Shortleaf Woodland Restoration and Maintenance Project (AL)
Objective: Restore shortleaf and oak woodland ecosystems on the Bankhead National Forest.
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Description: The USDA Forest Service will restore shortleaf and oak woodland ecosystems on the Bankhead National Forest. Activities will include commercial thinning, prescribed burning, mid-story removal, and the restoration of loblolly stands to shortleaf. With the implementation of this project, ecological systems will be returned to their natural resilience, with over 400 acres of shortleaf pine ecosystem established, and over 18,000 acres enhanced through prescribed burning and other activities.
Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Wild South, Alabama A&M University, and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Partner Organization: The University of Tennessee
Title: Shortleaf Pine in Mixed Pine-Hardwood Stands on the Cumberland Plateau (TN)
Objective: Restore and establish shortleaf pine in mixed pine-hardwood stands and provide education to landowners and technical providers on the many benefits of shortleaf ecosystems.
Award Amount: $50,000
Project Description: The University of Tennessee will reintroduce shortleaf pine in areas that have historically had a shortleaf pine component by planting 120 acres at two demonstration areas. The project will also develop and conduct workshops to train technical service providers and landowners on cost-effective methods to establish shortleaf pine successfully in pine-hardwood mixtures. It is anticipated that 100 landowners and 50 technical service providers (foresters and wildlife biologists) will benefit from these workshops.
Project Partners: Tennessee Department of Agriculture-Forestry Division and Tennessee Forestry Association.

About NFWF

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

About International Paper

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