Public and private groups work to restore southern forestland

  • Thursday, November 7, 2013

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in partnership with International Paper announced $7.5 million to restore southern forestland with the largest portion of that fund going to forest restoration in the Lowcountry. STAFF PHOTO BY SULLY WITTE

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The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in partnership with International Paper announced $7.5 million to restore southern forestland with the largest portion of that fund going to forest restoration in the Lowcountry. The chairman and CEO of International Paper, John Faraci, and NFWF’s vice-president of Conservation Programs, David O’Neill announced the initiative.

This funding to restore forestland in the Lowcountry will also go to North Carolina. The South Carolina Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy will receive grants through the Forestland Stewards Initiative, a partnership of NFWF and International Paper. Through this 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.

Projects in the Lowcountry are receiving the largest amount of funding given by the Forestland Stewards Initiative. Internatioal Paper’s Faraci discussed the importance of preserving the longleaf pine ecosystem and how this landmark public-private partnership will conserve and enhance southern forestland for years to come.

State Senator Chip Campsen is the senate chairman of the Fish, Game and Forestry Commission. He was on hand to applaud the partnership. He referred to the first South Carolina Poet Laureate Archibauld Rutledge’s book “Santee Paradise.”

He said that the goals of preservation and conservation should be so that men may enter nature’s sanctuary and that entry should be an incursion not a conquest.

O’Neill of the National Fish Wildlife Federation said the partnership with International Paper was the largest one thus far.

Preservation, he said, influences not just the environment, but culture, the economy and the history of these lands.

“Sixty percent of the wood harvested in the United States originates in the southeast,” he said.

This partnership will continue to keep working forests working as well as preserve the extraordinary ecosystem provided by our forests, he added, promoting biological diversity in the intricate landscape.

Faraci was on hand for the check presentation. He also serves on the board of the NFWF. He has been with the company for almost 40 years

Healthy forests play an important role in not only the company’s ability to provide paper packaging and construction products. “This is an on-the-ground conservation impact of $30 million,” he said. “It is also more than just a company donation. We depend on the forests to proect the ecosystems, for income to landowners, for jobs and sustainable wood production to make our products,” he 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 Lowcountry 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 for 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. Congressman Mark Sanford was on hand for the press conference and called the federation a catalyst in the world of conservation...producing extraordinary outcomes. He said that to be able to find solitude in a place that is becoming increasingly urban is vital to the human condition and made possible by partnerships such as this.

Colette Degarady, senior conservation ecologist/The Nature Conservancy South Carolina Chapter said this money is great evidence of the work already completed through the Sewee Longleaf Conservation Coopertive.

Steve Moore, who leads the cooperative effort as a representative of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation said that the next steps will be a major outreach and education campaign. He said that 5,000 acres will be improved and 600 acres will be planted through this grant fudning.

“Our good intentions would be for nothing without the money that International Paper has provided,” he concluded.

The forestry industry in South Carolina is the second largest industry in the state and the longleaf pine ecosystem is critical to that.

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 and restore 5,000 acres of longleaf pine. Educate communities & landowners on restoration opportunities and 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, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, White Oak Forestry, Sabine and Waters, Doe Hall Creek Timber Company, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Clemson Extension, S.C. Forestry Commission, S.C. Partners for Restoration of Native Plant Communities, S.C. 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 and 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: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Orton Plantation, Cape Fear Arch Conservation Collaboration, N.C. Forest Service, N.C. Plant Conservation Program, N.C. State Parks and private landowners.

Learn more at: www.nfwf.org/forestlandstewards.

(Sully Witte can be reached at editor@moultrienews.com or visit www.moultrienews.com).

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