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 $325,000 in Funding for Low Country Forestland Conservation

International Paper Supports Pioneering Public-Private Partnership to Restore Southern Forests, Protect Critical Habitats and Enhance Local Economies

CHARLESTON, SC, October 31, 2013 —The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE: IP) announced today $325,000 in grants to support forestland restoration and working forests throughout the low country of South Carolina and North Carolina. The South Carolina Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy’s North Carolina Chapter will receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and International Paper. These two grants will leverage over $1.5 million in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners.

Through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, 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 United States. These conservation efforts complement the company’s long-standing commitment to responsible wood sourcing, helping create the economic driver for the existence of many millions of acres of forests across the United States and the world.

John Faraci, Chairman and CEO of International Paper, was at the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center in Awendaw today to speak about the Forestland Stewards Initiative and the positive impact the partnership will have on the restoration of southern forestland. Mr. Faraci said:

“Forest stewardship has been a cornerstone for our company for 115 years. The forestlands in this region are biologically diverse, provide habitat for a number of threatened species of wildlife, fish and plants and are a significant source of jobs in several southern states. The Carolina Low Country grants are the largest grants to date from this partnership, highlighting our continued commitment to protect and restore landscapes for generations to come.”

Established in March 2013, the Forestland Stewards Initiative is a pioneering partnership created to conserve and restore southern forestlands representing some of America’s most iconic landscapes, critical habitats for endangered wildlife and economic opportunities. The initiative also highlights the critical role working forests play – especially in the United States, where 68 percent of all forests are working forests – by assisting landowners in improving commercial and environmental management practices for working forests. 

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 guiding the restoration of  more than 200,000 acres of southern pine, oak and woodlands and their associated freshwater systems. The initiative supports conservation projects in three regions: the Piney Woods on the Louisiana-Texas border, the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia and the low country of North and South Carolina.

“Our exciting new partnership with International Paper is advancing conservation in some of the most biologically diverse and culturally iconic landscapes in America,” explained David O’Neill, NFWF’s vice president for Conservation Programs. “We’re honored to have Mr. Faraci with us in South Carolina today to discuss International Paper’s commitment to healthy and sustainable forests, reflected in the grants we’ve just announced. These grants will lead to on-the-ground improvements that benefit fish and wildlife and strengthen local economies by keeping working forests working.”

“We are thrilled to begin working on projects that will enhance and restore over 5,000 acres of longleaf pine and extensively educate landowners and communities on restoration opportunities and best practices,” said Steve Moore, Special Projects Manager for South Carolina Wildlife Federation, recipient of a $150,000 grant. “The forestry industry in South Carolina is the second largest industry in the state and it’s important to let people know how critical the longleaf pine ecosystem is to us. We’re focused on ensuring there is awareness about restoration techniques like prescribed fire and the positive impact they have on conserving our forestland.”

“NFWF helped us establish the partnership in the Sewee landscape to restore longleaf forests. The grant given through the Forestland Stewards Initiative today will advance this effort by providing incentives to landowners to conserve and enhance forest habitats,” said Colette Degarady, Senior Conservation Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy South Carolina and coordinator for the Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative. “What has been most impressive so far is how partners have come together and worked across boundaries with very little convincing. With this great start, we have a lot to look forward to and we are so thankful to International Paper and NFWF for enabling this good work to continue.”

About the Grants:

Partner Organization: South Carolina Wildlife Federation

Title: Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative Restoration & Outreach

Objective: Create a private landowner cost-share program to enhance & restore 5,000 acres of longleaf pine. Educate communities & landowners on restoration opportunities & practices with targeted outreach program.

Award Amount: $150,000

Project Description: The South Carolina Wildlife Federation will increase the acreage of properly managed longleaf pine forest on private lands in and around the Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) with improved connectivity of existing forests in the area adjacent to FMNF that increases wildlife corridors and protects the wildlife value of FMNF. Through the restoration/enhancement funding, the project will impact at least 5,000 acres in the project region. In addition to extensive education efforts, the project will implement a cost-share program to make $80,000 available to local landowners for plantings, prescribed fire and other sustainable forestry practices.

Project Partners: US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, White Oak Forestry, Sabine and Waters, Inc., Doe Hall Creek Timber Company, SC Department of Natural Resources, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Clemson Extension, SC Forestry Commission, SC Partners for Restoration of Native Plant Communities, SC Wildlife Federation, Rural Resource Coalition, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, The Nature Conservancy


Partner Organization: The Nature Conservancy's North Carolina Chapter

Title: The Cape Fear Arch Initiative

Objective: Expand longleaf restoration & prescribed fire capacity on public & private lands; test new approaches to burning in the coastal plain.

Award Amount: $175,000

Project Description: The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) North Carolina Chapter and partners will plant more than 1,200 acres of longleaf pine seedlings and enhance more than 8,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat. The purpose of the initiative is to increase the establishment of longleaf pine, enhance existing longleaf habitat and develop innovative techniques to safely implement controlled burns in the wildland-urban interface and the organic peat soils of the pocosin-longleaf pine habitat matrix.

The project area includes the southeast coastal plain of North Carolina, stretching from the Bladen Lakes Significant Geographic Area south to the DOD’s Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) and includes the Greater Green Swamp Subarea.

Project Partners: NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Orton Plantation, Cape Fear Arch Conservation Collaboration, NC Forest Service, NC Plant Conservation Program, NC State Parks, and private landowners.

Learn more about Forestland Stewards at: www.nfwf.org/forestlandstewards.

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 www.nfwf.org.

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 internationalpaper.com.


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