NFWF and IP Announce $850,000 in Funding to Further Conserve and Enhance Coastal Carolina Forestland

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

August 25, Charleston, SC — The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE: IP) today announced $850,000 in grants to support forestland restoration and working forests throughout the North Carolina and South Carolina coastal region. The Nature Conservancy-North Carolina Chapter, the Longleaf Alliance, the Nature Conservancy-South Carolina Chapter, the Congaree Land Trust and the Lowcountry Open Land Trust will receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and IP. These five grants will leverage more than $2.6 million in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners, ultimately establishing more than 1,950 new acres and enhancing more than 14,600 existing acres of longleaf pine forest in the region.

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.

“By creating a stakeholder network of diverse organizations, partnerships like the Forestland Stewards Initiative enable International Paper to deliver on our commitment to use natural resources responsibly, thus strengthening the communities where we live and operate,” said Tom Cleves, vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Through a combination of co-ops, land trusts and conservation groups, these grants put the necessary resources in place to really make a difference.”

“The grants announced today will protect and enhance critical forest landscapes throughout the Southeast, improve management of private and public forests, and restore populations of at-risk wildlife and plant species,” said Eric Schwaab, vice president for NFWF’s conservation programs. “The Forestland Stewards Initiative, a landmark partnership between NFWF and International Paper, continues to revitalize some of the nation’s most biologically diverse habitats.”

“Partnerships have been key to restoring and managing longleaf pine in the coastal plain of North Carolina”, said Dan Ryan, director of longleaf pine for The Nature Conservancy’s North Carolina chapter. “This funding will help us continue to strengthen partnerships in the Cape Fear Arch region and increase the amount of prescribed fire that we’re able to get on the ground, which is critical to maintaining a healthy longleaf ecosystem that provides habitat for so many important wildlife and plant species.”

Since 2013, NFWF and IP have invested more than $5.4 million in projects through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, and these investments have been used to leverage more than $11.5 million in additional funds from grant partners, for a total investment of nearly $17 million for forestland conservation. These projects will restore more than 14,400 acres and improve nearly 121,000 additional acres of native forest and wildlife habitat. NFWF and IP anticipate that through this initiative, more than 200,000 acres of forestlands will be restored and improved, and more than 3,000 private landowners will be engaged through outreach and technical assistance to implement forest stewardship practices.

The initiative’s latest round of grants will benefit numerous species and support working forests in three priority regions in the Southeast: the Carolina Low Country Forests; the Cumberland Plateau of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee; and the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana.

About the Grants:

Coordinating Partner: The Nature Conservancy-North Carolina Chapter
Title: Cape Fear Arch Longleaf Initiative (NC) – II
Objective: Increase longleaf establishment and enhance and protect longleaf pine and bottomland hardwood habitat in southeastern North Carolina.
Award Amount: $300,000
Project Description: The Cape Fear Arch Conservation Collaboration will increase longleaf habitat connectivity across the Bladen Lakes Significant Geographic Area (SGA) and Greater Green Swamp Subarea in southeastern North Carolina. The project will establish 500 acres of longleaf and more than 1,050 acres of native grasses, treat 300 acres of mid-story, improve 3,500 of existing longleaf habitat with prescribed fire, enhance 10 acres of bottomland hardwood habitat, and permanently protect 450 acres of bottomland hardwood and longleaf pine habitat. Strategic outreach activities will engage 300 private landowners with opportunities and resources available to restore and manage longleaf pine. Collectively, these activities also will support the goals of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point to advance red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) habitat restoration and connect RCW subpopulations.
Project Partners: N.C. Forest Service, N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point – U.S. Department of Defense, Orton Plantation and members of the Cape Fear Arch Conservation Collaboration

Coordinating Partner: The Longleaf Alliance
Title: SoLoACE Longleaf Partnership (SC) – II
Objective: Expand efforts to restore and enhance longleaf pine on private lands within the ACE Basin (Ashepoo-Cumbahee-Edisto) region of South Carolina.
Award Amount: $250,000
Project Description: The SoLoACE Longleaf Partnership will build on efforts to restore and enhance longleaf pine on private lands within the ACE Basin region of South Carolina. Partners will strengthen collaboration and coordination to provide cost-share assistance to private landowners, resulting in 1,000 acres of longleaf planted and 1,700 acres of longleaf habitat treated with prescribed fire. Habitat will be enhanced for RCW and cost-share provided for installation of at least 25 nest boxes on properties containing suitable habitat. The project will specifically target underserved landowners for assistance through these programs. Outreach will include two longleaf academies for private landowners and forestry professionals, with an emphasis on prescribed fire education.
Project Partners: U.S. Department of Energy - Savannah River Site, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, S.C. Forestry Commission, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Clemson University and Extension, National Wild Turkey Federation, Open Land Trust, Nemours Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, ACE Basin Task Force, South Lowcountry Task Force

Partner Organization: The Nature Conservancy – South Carolina Chapter
Title: Winyah Bay Longleaf Conservation Cooperative (SC)
Objective: Investigate longleaf restoration and maintenance in the Winyah Bay area, including Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, South Carolina.
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Description: The Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative will investigate opportunities for longleaf restoration and maintenance in the Winyah Bay watershed and complete several on-the-ground pilot longleaf restoration projects. Partners will expand signature mapping efforts to cover Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, engage new private landowners, establish 20 acres of longleaf pine, implement 1,680 acres of prescribed fire on privately protected longleaf, remove nearly 50 acres of invasive species within existing longleaf stands and treat 180 acres of water hyacinth to improve bottomland habitat along the Black River and Mingo Creek. The project will also protect Rocky Point, a key 482-acre property that will be managed as a community forest and demonstration site for optimal forest management, which includes 283 acres of potential longleaf habitat.
Project Partners: Georgetown County, S.C. Forestry Commission, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Winyah Rivers Foundation, Horry-Georgetown Technical College - Forestry and Wildlife Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, S.C. Outdoor Education Program, Sewee Longleaf Conservation Collaborative, private landowners and forestry consultants

Partner Organization: Congaree Land Trust
Title: Longleaf Restoration on Private Lands in the South Carolina Coastal Plain
Objective: Manage and restore longleaf on privately owned forests in the Mid- and Atlantic Coastal Plain Ecoregions of South Carolina.
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Description: The Congaree Land Trust and partners will manage and restore longleaf pine habitat on 14 privately owned properties in the Mid- and Atlantic Coastal Plain Ecoregions of South Carolina. The project will establish 165 acres of longleaf pine, enhance more than 5,000 acres of longleaf habitat with prescribed fire, and treat mid-story hardwoods on more than 400 acres. These efforts will complement ongoing longleaf restoration efforts within the South-Lowcountry/ACE Basin SGA and other areas targeted for landscape-scale conservation in the South Carolina coastal plain.
Project Partners: Milliken Forestry Company, Inc. and private landowners

Partner Organization: Lowcountry Open Land Trust
Title: Santee-Cooper Longleaf Conservation (SC)
Objective: Restore longleaf pine habitats and permanently protect critical lands within the Santee and Cooper River watersheds in the South Carolina coastal plain.
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Description: The Lowcountry Open Land Trust will conduct a landowner outreach program to restore and enhance 275 acres of longleaf pine habitat and enhance and protect 1,000 acres of critical lands within the Santee and Cooper river corridors. Two workshops held in each river corridor will educate landowners on longleaf pine habitat restoration and management and present conservation tools and options for landowners. Partners will conduct follow-up with 10-15 landowners, resulting in habitat restoration and three to five conservation easements that will protect working forests and wildlife habitat and provide an important buffer to Francis Marion National Forest, which harbors the majority of South Carolina’s RCW population.
Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, The Open Space Institute, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service

Learn more about Forestland Stewards at:

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 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 along with uncoated papers and pulp. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 58,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2014 were $24 billion. For more information about International Paper, its products and stewardship efforts, visit



Rob Blumenthal (NFWF), 202-857-0166
Kim Clewis (International Paper), 910-362-4887, 910-512-0086 (cell)
Mike Smith (GreenSmith PR, Public Relations for NFWF), 703-623-3834

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