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International Paper, Dogwood Alliance to Protect Southern Forests

International Paper and Southern US forest conservation organization Dogwood Alliance have reached an agreement that they say will help advance science-based forestry improvements in the world’s largest paper producing region.

The former foes will map forests around International Paper’s southeastern operations to identify whether any endangered forests or high conservation value areas exist. This mapping will help ensure that IP is not sourcing from any endangered forests as per its long-standing company policy and will also identify mutually agreed upon areas where conservation can be focused.

Additionally, IP has announced an increase its sourcing of Forest Stewardship Council certified fiber by more than 1.2 million tons during the past five years, and expects to triple that increase by the end of 2014. The company also says it will fund a $7.5 million five-year project with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore and conserve forests in the Coastal Carolinas, Cumberland Plateau and Texas/Arkansas Piney Woods regions.

IP and Dogwood Alliance say they will also work together to discourage the conversion of natural hardwood forests to pine plantations.

The collaboration will kick off with a 2013 pilot project to map forests around IP’s mill in Riegelwood, NC, near Wilmington. After the pilot project, IP and Dogwood Alliance will evaluate the framework used and modify it as necessary with the intent of applying it across additional IP southeastern operations.

Dogwood Alliance has been critical of IP in the past, accusing paper company of draining biodiverse land resources and practicing large-scale clearcutting in the South.

Late last month, IP joined the Global Forest and Trade Network in North America, one of World Wildlife Fund’s initiatives focused on eliminating illegal logging and promoting environmentally and socially responsible forest management. The company announced a set of voluntary goals in 2012, including one focused on increasing third-party certified wood fiber by 15 percent by 2020 compared to 2010 levels.

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