NFWF, IP Announce $2.34 Million in Grants to Conserve/Enhance Southeastern Forestland

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper, Memphis, Tenn., USA, this week announced $2.34 million in grants to support forestland restoration and working forests in three priority regions in the Southeast: The Carolina Low Country Forests; Cumberland Plateau of Alabama, Georgia, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee; and the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana. A total of 12 projects have been selected to receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and IP. These grants will leverage nearly $3.8 million in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners and will ultimately establish nearly 5,300 new acres and enhance approximately 58,000 existing acres of longleaf and shortleaf pine and riparian forest habitat.

 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, IP 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 U.S.

"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 IP. "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."

David O'Neill, VP for NFWF's Conservation Programs, noted that that "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. These grants will lead to on-the-ground improvements that benefit fish and wildlife and strengthen local economies by keeping working forests working."

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 98,000-plus 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 more than 3,000 private landowners will be engaged through outreach and technical assistance to implement forest stewardship practices throughout the Southeast.