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IP Celebrates National Forest Week and Public-Private Partnerships That Bolster Healthy Forests for All

NORTHAMPTON, MA (News release) -- In honor of National Forest Week, International Paper (IP) and longtime partner National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) celebrate the collaboration between public and private partners that are essential to supporting robust forests and wildlife throughout the Southeast.

Joint efforts between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Forestland Stewards Partnership, a longstanding collaboration between IP and NFWF, focus on restoring and maintaining healthy forests that cross boundaries between public and private lands. This partnership brings together funding from NFWF, IP, USFS and other funders to support competitive grants that fund projects to enhance the health of National Forests and restore and manage longleaf pine habitat on private lands adjacent to or near these forests, creating corridors for wildlife and reducing wildfire risks.

"One of the most effective ways to ensure the resilience of our forests is through cooperation across boundaries and leveraging public and private resources," said Jon Scott, southern forests program director with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "Our projects support both public and private landowners, leading to healthier ecosystems and safer communities."

The Forestland Stewards Partnership has supported more than a dozen projects that are in or adjacent to the 18 National Forests within the historical longleaf pine forest range. These projects have been bolstered by the USFS's investments through the partnership and willingness to collaborate with non-government organizations and private landowners.

"International Paper proudly celebrates our National Forests this week, and every week," said Sophie Beckham, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. "We are grateful for the conservation and recreational opportunities provided within the National Forests, but also for the financial and technical support USFS provides through the Forestland Stewards Partnership. Together, we are working toward a common goal of thriving forests that support wildlife and communities."

A prime example of a National Forest Week success story that crosses these public-private boundaries is the red-cockaded woodpecker. One of the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act, decades-long conservation efforts have helped the red-cockaded woodpecker recover a healthy, sustainable population in South Carolina's Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF). The woodpeckers, which rely on mature longleaf pine forests, currently occupy nearly all the suitable longleaf pine habitat in the National Forest, but other mature longleaf forests are too far away for the birds to reach on their own. Efforts supported by partners, including the USFS, NFWF and IP, have allowed for some of the birds from the FMNF to be moved to carefully selected and prepared longleaf sites on private lands where new populations are taking hold.

Funding provided to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Longleaf Alliance also has enabled Francis Marion National Forest to conduct controlled burns, which are essential to restoring and maintaining longleaf pine habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers and other wildlife and assist private landowners with longleaf habitat restoration. Seasonal fire crews funded by this partnership have been crucial in maintaining the forest's health and resilience.

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