IP, NFWF and Partners Award $4 Million to Improve Forest and Freshwater Habitats in the Cumberland Plateau

IP, NFWF and Partners Award $4 Million to Improve Forest and Freshwater Habitats in the Cumberland Plateau

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Monday, July 25, 2022 - 10:30am

With the recent announcement of thirteen new grants totaling $4 million awarded to conservation projects in the Cumberland Plateau region, the Forestlands Stewards partnership of International Paper and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), continues to fund projects that improve habitat for game species, forest-dependent birds, fish, and freshwater mussels. The thirteen grants will help to restore, enhance, and protect forests and waterways in the Cumberland Plateau region of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The grants will leverage $3.4 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of $7.4 million—benefiting shortleaf pine forests, oak forests, riparian forests, in‑stream habitats, and grasslands. The grants were awarded through the Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund.

“The Cumberland Plateau region harbors incredible biodiversity, including fish and wildlife species found nowhere else in the world. These 13 projects represent a record year of funding for the program, reflecting the growing importance of the region to the country in terms of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and clean water,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.

The Cumberland Plateau features complex geology and landforms that create an immense diversity of habitats. Much of the land in the Cumberland Plateau region is privately owned, and grantees will engage private landowners in habitat restoration efforts through educational events such as workshops and field days and by providing technical assistance.

Collective impact across 13 projects 

  • Restore or enhance more than 20,000 acres of forest
  • Improve more than 30 miles of stream habitat
  • Benefit numerous aquatic species, including mussels, fish such as the federally endangered laurel dace, and amphibians and reptiles such as the Black Warrior waterdog and the flattened musk turtle.
  • Help numerous birds including the wild turkey, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, prairie warbler, Bachman’s sparrow, and golden-winged warbler

“As part of our Vision 2030 goal of restoring and conserving 1 million acres of ecologically significant forestland, we are proud to support forest and water conservation projects within the Cumberland Plateau,” said Jeremy Poirier, IP’s manager of fiber certification and sustainability.

The projects supported by the grants will restore shortleaf pine, white oak, and other upland forests and grasslands through plantings, prescribed burning, and other management practices. These projects also will improve aquatic habitats by removing stream barriers, reforesting abandoned surface mines and degraded stream banks, and working with farmers to implement conservation practices on agricultural lands to reduce runoff and stream sedimentation.

“National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant opportunities are critical for the Cumberland Plateau Region,” said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Regional Director. “We remain committed to private landowners and other partners that are conserving forest and wetlands and keeping working lands working. These grant-supported projects will continue this amazing work to conserve America's lands and waters for the benefit of all people.”

About the Cumberland Stewardship Fund 

The Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund is dedicated to restoring native forests to conditions that will improve associated wildlife species and the health of freshwater systems, while advancing strategies to support working forests within the Cumberland Plateau.​Stretching from northwest Alabama to the Kentucky-West Virginia border, the Cumberland Plateau is one of the most biologically rich landscapes in the United States. A combination of complex landforms, limestone geology, and large, intact blocks of forest habitat creates diverse terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems hosting numerous endemic and rare species. The Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund is a public-private partnership supported with Federal funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private funding from International Paper’s Forestland Stewards Partnership and Altria Group. Learn more: Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund

About the Forestland Stewards Partnership

International Paper and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation formed the Forestland Stewards Partnership in 2013 to conserve and restore southern forestlands, which comprise some of the United States' most iconic landscapes. The partnership supports projects to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations, and protect watersheds — while at the same time promoting and supporting working forests in 10 states across the South. Learn more: Forestlands Stewards

CATEGORY: Environment