International Paper Awarded AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Resilient U.S. Forests

The award recognized innovation to promote forest bird awareness and conservation within the forest product supply chain
Nov 10, 2023 2:00 PM ET

MEMPHIS, Tenn., November 10, 2023 /3BL/ - The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today announced its Better Practices, Better Planet 2030 Sustainability Award winners. The awards recognize exemplary sustainability programs and initiatives in paper and wood products manufacturing.

International Paper was honored to receive a Leadership in Sustainability Award for Resilient U.S. Forests for its innovative approach to promote forest bird awareness and conservation within the forest product supply chain in partnership with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

“We are honored by AF&PA’s recognition of our efforts in partnership with the American Bird Conservancy,” said Sophie Beckham, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer, IP. “This partnership has given us the opportunity to work with landowners, suppliers, conservationists, and bird specialists to support wildlife diversity in the landscapes from which we source fiber.”

In 2020, IP and ABC formalized a multi-year partnership with the goal of integrating bird conservation into IP’s fiber procurement operations. This partnership advances IP’s commitment to sustaining forests and reversing the decline of forest birds.

IP and ABC recognized that both organizations share the need for sustainably managed forests to meet their missions and support their respective business models. Given the scale and scope of IP’s operations, this partnership brought together IP’s strengths and expertise in fiber procurement and ABC’s expertise in bird conservation to contribute to reversing population declines in forest birds.

Through the partnership and working with the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI), IP and ABC found that Swallow-tailed Kites are excellent ambassadors for sustainable working forests in the U.S. South. Kites are relatively easy to identify; they nest and forage on southeast working forests; and they migrate thousands of miles back to their wintering grounds in South America in late summer. Tracking kites allows IP to monitor their movements all year long to further understand their specific habitat needs and use the data to target conservation and outreach in the most strategic areas.

“Our sustainability awards are outstanding examples of our goals in action,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “We received our highest number of sustainability awards applications to date. We are so pleased to present these awards and deeply value the innovative work being done across our industry to advance safety, sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

Better Practices, Better Planet is one of the longest standing sustainability initiatives for a U.S. manufacturing industry. The program was established more than a decade ago.

The sustainability award winners demonstrate the industry’s long-held commitment to improving practices that advance sustainable products for a sustainable future. The 2023 Sustainability Award winners were selected by a judging panel with representatives from Clemson University, the Department of Energy, GreenBlue, the National Association of Manufacturers, Pure Strategies and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Visit for videos from all of the award winning projects.


About American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA)
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper.

About International Paper 
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products, and one of North America's largest recyclers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 39,000 colleagues globally who are committed to creating what's next. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2022 were $21.2 billion. Additional information can be found by visiting