A new collaboration between members of the forest products industry and beyond aims to engage North and South Carolina land owners in responsible forestry practices and certification regimes. American Forest Foundation (AFF), International Paper, The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) and 3M Company recently announced the formation of the Carolinas Working Forest Conservation Collaborative, which is a joint initiative in the Coastal Carolinas Plain to educate and engage family woodland owners in sustainable forestry, forest certification, the enhancement of habitat for at-risk species and the conservation of bottomland hardwood forests.International Paper, P&G and 3M are together providing a total of $285,000 over a three-year period to AFF in support of their work to implement sustained and strategic landowner engagement efforts in North Carolina (Columbus, Bladen, Robeson, Cumberland, Pender, Johnston counties) and South Carolina (Horry, Florence, and surrounding counties).
The Carolinas Working Forests Conservation Collaborative aims to:
- Increase awareness and understanding of the importance of sustainable forestry and active management among 30,000 woodland owners, who collectively own 2.4 million acres of forestland in the Carolina Coastal Plains region.
- Work with at least 450 landowners across 36,500 acres in the project counties to connect them with technical assistance and resources to get them started in forest management.
- Engage at least 160 woodland owners within the project area to enhance, restore or expand bottomland hardwood forests and quality habitat for at-risk species on at least 13,000 acres.
- Certify at least 120 landowners in a recognized forest certification standard.
“P&G is committed to sourcing 100% of our raw paper materials from responsibly managed forests,” says Tonia Elrod, director of sustainability & product stewardship for P&G Family Care brands. “To help us meet this goal, it is important for us to invest in partnerships with likeminded companies to increase responsible forestry practices and landowner certification while allowing us to still deliver the same superior product experience our consumers expect.”
“At 3M, we drive both business growth and positive societal impact through purposeful partnerships," says Jean Bennington Sweeney, 3M’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “We depend on committed landowners to provide sustainable, responsibly harvested wood fiber to our suppliers for products and packaging used in our brands like Post-it® Notes, Scotch® Tapes, FiltreteTM Filters, Scotch-Brite® Scrubbers and others. The sustainable practices this project enables will provide lasting benefits to landowners, forests, and our business.”
Families and individuals own more than one-third of the forests across the US, which is more than corporations or the government. In the US South, 87 percent of family forest owners cite wildlife as a top reason they own land, yet most lack the technical skills and resources to manage it. Across the forest products supply chain, more than 50 percent of the wood supply comes from family-owned land. As sustainability certification becomes more prevalent on a global basis—covering a broad swath of products derived from forest raw materials—it is imperative that landowners gain the knowledge and skills to ensure the viability of the timber on their land in such a dynamic market. Many European wood pellet customers actively ensure certification of their supplies, and large consumer products companies (such as P&G and 3M) pursue similar arrangements due to their extensive packaging needs.
“There is a misconception that you cannot have both paper products and habitat from the same forest, however we have found that wood and wildlife can go hand-in-hand when family woodland owners are sustainably managing, said Paul DeLong, Vice President of Conservation for AFF. “International Paper, P&G and 3M have all shown a great commitment to responsible forestry, making them strong partners in our efforts to increase the number of landowners actively managing their land for wildlife, while providing sustainably produced wood supplies.”