Paper Partnership Benefits Tennessee Forests
The state of Tennessee and International Paper have announced a formal partnership to protect and manage special areas on more than 220,000 acres of International Paper’s forestland in Tennessee.
The partnership, also known as the “Tennessee Unique Areas Cooperative Management Program,” will identify, conserve and manage ecologically unique areas and populations of rare species within International Paper’s Tennessee forestlands.
“This voluntary agreement allows far greater conservation of our natural resources than either the state or International Paper could accomplish on our own,” said Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist. “It is another example of the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in conserving and protecting Tennessee’s biodiversity and underscores the key role private forestland stewardship plays in Tennessee.”
Under the three year agreement, International Paper (IP) and the state will cooperate to identify special management areas, manage rare species and habitats, restore and maintain habitats, conduct biological inventories and develop management plans for special areas on company owned forestlands. IP’s Tennessee foresters will also be trained to recognize unique and important biological resources.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (DEC) Division of Natural Heritage (DNH) will oversee the agreement for the state.
“We are very pleased with this agreement and look forward to continuing our cooperative partnership with International Paper,” said DNH director Reggie Reeves. “We believe this offers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the principles of conservation and stewardship on privately owned, working forestland.”
Tennessee DEC biologists have identified two important populations of the endangered Tennessee yellow-eyed grass and its rare seep habitat on IP forestlands. IP has already established these areas as Special Places in the Forest(TM) under an internal program that designates and manages special areas under company ownership.
IP now manages almost 400 sites encompassing more than 28,000 acres in their Special Places in the Forest(TM) program. Four of these Special Places in the Forest(TM) are in Tennessee.
“Our relationship with TDEC is strong. This is the best next step for both of our organizations, and most importantly, for areas of exceptional conservation value in our forests,” said George O’Brien, senior vice president of IP’s Forest Products businesses. “These sites on our forestlands truly illustrate that biodiversity protection and working forests can go hand in hand.”
International Paper, the world’s largest paper and forest products company, is the largest private landowner in the United States, with some 10 million acres of forestland. All of the company’s U.S. forestlands are third party certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program, which ensures the continual planting, growing and harvesting of trees while protecting wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality.
Provided by the the Environmental News Service.