May 2006

 

American forests protected by purchase of land
The acres purchased include some of the most ecologically important lands

Stamford, CT— International Paper, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund have reached an agreement to protect 218,000 acres of forestlands across 10 states in the single largest private land conservation sale in the history of the South, and one of the largest in the nation.

The Nature Conservancy will acquire more than 173,000 acres in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Conservation Fund will acquire more than 5,000 acres in Florida and 500 in North Carolina. The two groups will jointly purchase an additional 39,000 acres in South Carolina.

International Paper will receive approximately $300 million for the land at closing, which is expected to occur in the next several months. The tracts included in the sale are some of International Paper’s most ecologically important lands.

The majority of the land will remain working forests. Under the terms of the agreement, timber will be sustainably harvested from some tracts and a set amount of timber volume will be supplied to International Paper for local production. Sensitive areas will continue to be set aside from harvesting activities.

The biodiversity and ecological importance of the parcels included in the project reflect International Paper’s sustainable management of its working forests. Many of the parcels which have thrived under the company’s leadership are home to bald eagles, black bear and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Several tracts also provide vital linkages between existing public and private conservation areas. The majority of lands being acquired by the Conservancy and The Conservation Fund are located along rivers and estuaries, such as the Perdido River on the border of Florida and Alabama, the Lower Roanoke River in North Carolina and Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee Rivers in South Carolina.

In a number of states, the conservation organizations are working closely with state agencies and other partners to ensure these lands are conserved for future generations.

International Paper has protected approximately 1.5 million acres of forestlands through conservation land donations, sales and easements during its history. Recently, for example, International Paper and The Conservation Fund closed on the first phase of a 257,000-acre conservation easement in New York’s Adirondack Park, permanently protecting those acres from development.

This and many other past conservation agreements have been in partnership with The Nature Conservancy or The Conservation Fund. These partnerships laid the foundation for the three organizations to identify some of International Paper’s most ecologically diverse forestlands for purchase in this historic transaction.

The agreement represents the largest financial commitment in the 55-year history of The Nature Conservancy. To secure funding to complete this project, the Conservancy engaged Conservation Forestry, LLC and its consortium partner, Forest Investment Associates.

The Conservancy will transfer ownership of some lands in Virginia, Florida and Georgia to Conservation Forestry, LLC and Forest Investment Associates. The Conservancy will retain rights to acquire nearly all the properties, or interest in the properties in the form of conservation easements at later dates based on the availability of funding. In the interim period, the lands will be managed to sustainable forestry standards and key conservation areas will continue to be off-limits to wood harvesting.

 

 


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