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Business and conservation groups team up to conserve and better manage US’s southern forests

A new project entitled Carbon Canopy brings together multiple stakeholders—from big business to conservation organizations to private landowners—in order to protect and better manage the United State’s southern forests. The program intends to employ the emerging US forest carbon market to pay private forest owners for conservation and restoration efforts while making certain that all forest-use practices subscribes to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Carbon Canopy brings together Fortune 500 Companies, including Staples, The Home Depot, and Domtar with environmental organizations, Dogwood Alliance, Pacific Forest Trust, and the Rainforest Alliance.

“Never before have we seen this kind of collaboration in the South between forest industry, large US corporations, landowners and environmental groups to find real solutions” stated Danna Smith, Executive Director of the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental organization that works with corporations to save embattled southern forests. “Through investing in the protection, conservation and restoration of forests, we can not only reduce carbon emissions, but we can also ensure a healthy forest legacy for future generations, while providing a helping hand to the millions of families and individuals who manage forestland in the Southern US.”

The program is setting up a pilot project on 535 acres of privately owned forest land in North Carolina. The projects aims to see how private landowners may benefit financially from a combination of conservation and sustainable management as outlined by the FSC. The project will fall in line with the accounting standards of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VSC) and the Climate Action Reserve (CAR). Staples and Interface have offered to pay the landowner for any increases in carbon storage through the project, which is managed by the Pacific Forest Trust.

“We are excited to be a part of a project focused on the longevity of our forests, one that will benefit the stewards of the land, positively impact future generations and support local and regional economies by creating products originating from forests managed to a high environmental standard,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs of Staples Inc, adding that “this project is a continuation of the important work that we began with Dogwood Alliance years ago to effect change and responsibly preserve and cultivate the forests of the US.”

Despite being home to more tree species than anywhere else in the North America, the most aquatic diversity in the United States, and numerous endemic and threatened species, the United States’ southern forests have been left vastly unprotected. In fact 90 percent of the region’s forests are privately owned and therefore have no legal protection. This has created a situation where much of the forest land has been clear cut and replaced with plantations for paper products: the region supplies 60 percent of the United States’ paper products and 15 percent of the world’s. Biodiversity, species abundance, water quality, and carbon sequestration have all been negatively impacted by the large-scale conversion of natural forests to plantations.

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