NFWF and IP Announce More Than $740,000 in Funding to Further Conserve and Enhance Cumberland Plateau Forestland

Grants Support Restoration of Southern Forests, Protection of Critical Habitats, Enhancement of Local Economies in Second Year of Landmark Public-Private Partnership

Memphis, TN - August 18 — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE: IP) today announced $743,000 in grants to support forestland restoration and working forests throughout the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.  The American Forest Foundation, the Nature Conservancy-Tennessee Chapter, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the National Wild Turkey Foundation and Quail Forever, Inc. have been selected to receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and International Paper. These five grants will leverage nearly $850,000 in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners and will ultimately establish more than 2,600 new acres and enhance over 26,000 existing acres of native forest.

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. These forests provide critical habitats for endangered wildlife and economic opportunities for local communities. Through the initiative, International Paper has committed $7.5 million over five years to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations and protect watersheds, while at the same time promoting and supporting working forests in eight states across the southeastern United States.

“As we enter our second year of this partnership, the great progress we’ve made underscores International Paper’s commitment to protect and restore forest landscapes for generations to come,” said John Faraci, chairman and CEO of International Paper. “It is a winning scenario that conserves and restores some of nature’s most amazing treasures, provides economic value for landowners and communities, and ensures a sustainable supply of wood to make products that people rely on every day.”

“With this second round of grants through our partnership with International Paper we are advancing conservation in some of the most biologically diverse and culturally iconic landscapes in America,” said David O’Neill, vice president for NFWF’s Conservation Programs. “These grants will lead to on-the-ground improvements that benefit fish and wildlife and strengthen local economies by keeping working forests working.

“The grant we received today will allow us to implement more modern marketing techniques and tools to reach unengaged landowners throughout the Cumberland Plateau. Private landowners own timberland for multiple reasons: income, legacy, wildlife, recreation,” said Christopher Erwin, director of the Southern Forest Conservation Group with the American Forest Foundation. “Many organizations have approached landowners as if timber income is the only thing they care about.  Our job is to educate them on the benefits of shortleaf pine restoration and help them engage in sustainable forest management.”

Since 2013, NFWF and IP have invested more than $3.3 million in projects through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, and these initial investments have been used to leverage more than $6.7 million in additional funds from grant partners, for a total investment of more than $10 million for forestland conservation. These projects will restore more than 8,000 acres and improve over 98,000 additional acres of native forest and wildlife habitat. Through this initiative, NFWF and IP anticipate that more than 200,000 acres of forestlands will be restored and improved and over 3,000 private landowners engaged through outreach and technical assistance to implement forest stewardship practices, benefitting numerous species and supporting working forests in three priority regions in the Southeast: The Carolina Low Country Forests, Cumberland Plateau of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee and the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana.

About the Grants:

Partner Organization: American Forest Foundation
Title: Shortleaf Pine in the Alabama Cumberlands
Objective: Partners will use modern marketing tools and techniques to reach forest landowners in the Cumberlands of Alabama and engage them in sustainable forest management in Shortleaf Pine habitats.
Award Amount: $243,378
Project Description: The American Forest Foundation (AFF) will complete a landowner marketing campaign and engage private landowners to identify prime prospects for reaching and engaging in sustainable forest management principles with an emphasis on shortleaf pine management. Once engaged, landowners will receive offers for additional information, site visits from professional foresters and wildlife biologists, technical education programs and landowner field days. Partners will work with landowners to restore over 1,000 acres of shortleaf pine, enhance over 2,500 acres of shortleaf habitat, and engage 600 private landowners through technical assistance.
Project Partners: Alabama Forestry Foundation, Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Treasure Forest Association, Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, U.S. Forest Service and Aldo Leopold Foundation


Partner Organization: The Nature Conservancy-Tennessee Chapter
Title: Elk River Watershed Buffer Initiative
Objective: Partners will develop transferable tools to identify priority conservation sites and establish riparian buffers on key tributaries and the mainstem of the Elk River, Tennessee.
Award Amount: $147,838
Project Description: The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other organizations will spearhead an initiative on the Elk River, which ranks as one of the highest aquatic conservation priorities in Tennessee. The project will reduce nutrients and sedimentation and address in-stream habitat disturbances caused by agricultural practices. The project also will develop, test and apply approaches to providing conservation planning information from the Tennessee State Wildlife Action Plan to the NRCS county-level District Conservationists and Soil Conservation District staff. Over 200 private landowners will be engaged resulting in the restoration and enhancement of 234 acres of riparian forest and 16 miles of stream.
Project Partners: Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Agriculture - Water Resources Division, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Conservation Districts, Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts, The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Partner Organization: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Title: Save Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau Riparian Hemlock Forests
Objective: Treat the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid to preserve the integrity of priority riparian hemlock ecosystems on two Wildlife Management Areas and two Natural Areas.
Award Amount: $75,000
Project Description: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will treat hemlocks against hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) using approved soil-drench and stem-injection methods on 120 acres located at Colditz Cove State Natural Area (SNA) and on 60 acres at Rugby SNA, protecting forest and riparian habitats critical to numerous Greatest Conservation Need (GCN) species identified in and near the boundaries of these state natural areas. The project also will strategically release up to four species of predatory beetles within 981 acres of hemlock conservation areas on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and within approximately 500 acres of hemlock-dominated riparian forest on Catoosa Wildlife Management Area to control HWA and sustain riparian habitats critical to numerous GCN species.
Project Partners: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy and University of Tennessee


Partner Organization: National Wild Turkey Federation
Title: Cumberland Shortleaf & Woodland Savannah Restoration
Objective: Restore shortleaf and woodland savannas on public lands in TN & KY.  Management activities include prescribed fire, opening enhancement, timber stand improvements, and public outreach field days.
Award Amount: $217,000
Project Description: The National Wild Turkey Federation, Inc. will conduct restoration in the Cumberland Plateau physiographic region, located within the Daniel Boone National Forest of Kentucky and North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area of Tennessee. Management activities will restore the landscape-level ecological diversity by creating and enhancing current forest conditions with the use of prescribed fire, mechanical treatments for current timber stands, and the creation of patchwork openings within the forest. Restoration actions will directly impact 15,492 acres of shortleaf and grassland habitat. Demonstration areas will be developed for outreach efforts to directly educate 500 people on a local, regional, and national scale.
Project Partners: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Tennessee & Kentucky Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest


Partner Organization: Quail Forever, Inc.
Title: Cumberland Plateau Private Lands Capacity
Objective: Farm Bill biologist capacity will be placed in Central TN to work with private landowners to implement farm bill conservation programs that restore/enhance woodland, savanna and riparian habitat.
Award Amount: $59,800
Project Description: Quail Forever, Inc. will build farm bill biologist capacity in central Tennessee to promote and further private landowner enrollment in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Farm Bill programs to restore and enhance shortleaf pine savannah and riparian habitat. Expected results include 600 landowner contacts, 8,000 acres of forest with improved management, and 500 acres enrolled in riparian/upland habitat programs. The biologist also will focus on communicating the benefits of prescribed fire as well as continuous Conservation Reserve Program promotion to landowners in proximity to National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative focal areas, remnant shortleaf forests, and significant public lands.
Project Partners: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Volunteer Chapter of Quail Forever


Learn more about Forestland Stewards at:

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife and habitats. Working with federal agencies, corporations, foundations and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.3 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. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 65,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2013 were $29 billion.  For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit




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