International Paper Sells Forestlands to Conservation Groups
March 28, 2006 - 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
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.
"This historic transaction demonstrates the compatibility of
environmental, recreational and economic interests, and is a testimony to
International Paper's legacy of sustainably managing healthy, working
forestlands and protecting special forestlands for 108 years," said John
Faraci, International Paper chairman and chief executive officer. "As we
consider the sale of our U.S. land holdings, we saw this as an important
opportunity to protect in perpetuity many of our most ecologically significant
Steve McCormick, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said, "This
project was made possible through the leadership and vision of public
officials and public agencies across the South. The South's landscape is
changing before our eyes. It is only through partnerships among state and
federal agencies, companies like International Paper, private landowners and
nonprofit organizations that we can hope to conserve the South's natural
heritage and quality of life."
"This announcement is extraordinary in every sense of the word -- from its
scope and scale to its tremendous conservation outcomes," said The
Conservation Fund's president, Larry Selzer. "Thanks to the support and
commitment of our partners, these important lands will protect wildlife
habitat, enhance air and water quality, support local economies and provide
exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities for future generations."
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. Today's announcement represents the beginning of this
landmark conservation project.
International Paper has protected approximately 1.5 million acres of
forestlands through conservation land donations, sales and easements during
its history. Recently, for example, IP 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 the necessary 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.
"We are delighted to participate in this opportunity with The Nature
Conservancy and International Paper," said John Tomlin, a founder of
Conservation Forestry. "Our goal is a good outcome for conservation and a
solid return for investors, and we look forward to achieving both on these and
As much as 44 million acres of privately owned forestland, a critical part
of the nation's landscape, will be sold over the next 25 years. The future of
these lands -- especially in the South where forestry has long supported
hundreds of thousands of jobs and helped to safeguard some of the nation's
most biologically important wildlife habitat -- will be told within that time.
The continued fragmentation of forests because of subdivision, land use
change and development is one of the most pressing threats facing the American
landscape today. Forests -- both public and private -- protect biodiversity,
wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and jobs
for more than 1.6 million Americans. Healthy forests protect water resources
by slowing runoff, stabilizing soils, preventing erosion and floods and
Private and non-profit conservation groups continue to express interest in
additional International Paper land holdings, and the company will continue to
explore those opportunities.
About International Paper
Headquartered in the United States, International Paper businesses include paper, packaging and
forest products. As one of the largest private landowners in the world, IP
professional foresters and wildlife biologists manage its forests with great
care in compliance with the rigorous standards of the Sustainable Forestry
Initiative® program. The SFI® program is an independent forest
certification system that ensures the perpetual planting, growing and
harvesting of trees while protecting biodiversity, wildlife, plants, soil,
water and air quality. The company also has a long-standing policy of using no
wood from endangered forests.
About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization
that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the
diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to
survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have
been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the
United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin
America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.
About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund is the nation's foremost environmental nonprofit
dedicated to protecting America's land and water legacy for current and future
generations. Seeking innovative conservation solutions for the 21st century,
the Fund works to integrate economic and environmental goals. Since its
founding in 1985, the Fund has helped its partners safeguard wildlife habitat,
working landscapes, community "greenspace," and historic sites totaling more
than 5 million acres. With 1 percent fund raising costs and 96 percent program
allocation, The Conservation Fund is recognized as the nation's top rated
environmental nonprofit by both the American Institute of Philanthropy and
About Conservation Forestry, LLC
Conservation Forestry, LLC is a timber investment fund based in Woburn,
Massachusetts with a strategy of investing in conservation related
transactions while achieving its investment goals.
About Forest Investment Associates
Forest Investment Associates is in its twentieth year of providing
investment management services to institutional and private investors in
timberland. Operating out of its Atlanta, Georgia headquarters, the staff of
FIA manages timberland portfolios for major corporate pension plans, state and
municipal retirement systems, charitable trusts and endowment funds.
SOURCE: International Paper