MEMPHIS, TENN., Aug. 25, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and International Paper (NYSE:IP) today announced $2.1 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, Kentucky and Tennessee; and the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana. Thirteen projects have been selected to receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and International Paper. These grants will leverage nearly $4.8 million in additional funds and in-kind support from agency and project partners and will ultimately establish more than 6,100 new acres and enhance approximately 22,600 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, 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."
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 and support working forests.
Learn more about Forestland Stewards at: www.nfwf.org/forestlandstewards.
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 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 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 internationalpaper.com.
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CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal (NFWF), 202-857-0166 Mike Smith (GreenSmith PR, Public Relations for NFWF), 703-623-3834
Source:National Fish and Wildlife Foundation