The Nature Conservancy will cooperate with Working Woodlands landowners to develop sustainable forest management plans that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council(TM), a nonprofit group devoted to ensuring the highest standards of responsible forest management. In addition to generating FSC(R) certified forest products, the certified lands are also managed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that more carbon is stored in the forest.
The Conservancy then works with Blue Source, one of the world's leading greenhouse gas offset developers, to market and sell the landowners' forest carbon credits. In return, landowners agree to manage the forest sustainably for at least 60 years.
"Working Woodlands is an innovative approach to help forest owners manage their properties for ecological health, productivity and better economic return," said Lewis Fix, Domtar Vice-President, Brand Management and Sustainable Product Development. "The program marks the first time private landowners can gain access to markets that will help them sustain healthy, diverse, rich forests. We are excited to team with The Nature Conservancy and help show how proper forestry practices lead to sustainable and renewable paper and wood products that consumers can feel good about using."
This marks the latest effort by Domtar, a global leader in paper manufacturing, to help better manage forests. As a founding member of the Canadian Boreal Leadership Council, Domtar joined forces in 2003 with First Nations communities, environmental groups and other resource companies to help sustain the Canadian boreal forest region. A few years later, Domtar transferred 15 square miles of land in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec and sold 20,000 acres in New York's Adirondack Mountains to The Nature Conservancy. This year, Domtar contributed to preserving an additional 2,011 acres of wetlands in the Eastern Townships region with a land transfer to Ducks Unlimited Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated the conservation of wetlands.
The Nature Conservancy and Blue Source launched Working Woodlands in December 2009, and the program has already attracted interest from landowners whose total holdings exceed 10,000 acres. Additionally, the Conservancy has certified its own Pennsylvania forest properties under FSC(R), and has led efforts globally to promote forest certification and carbon trading as incentives for conservation.
Under the pilot program with The Nature Conservancy, Domtar will donate US$30,000 over the next two years to help enroll a total of 20,000 acres in Working Woodlands. At least 4,000 acres are expected to be from owners of small plots of forested land near Domtar's Johnsonburg paper mill in Central Pennsylvania, but the impact could be far more extensive. Domtar and The Nature Conservancy said the pilot program may also expand to areas surrounding Domtar's mills in the Southeast United States.
"Well-managed forests can help both the environment and the economy," said Dylan Jenkins, Director of Forest Conservation for The Nature Conservancy's Pennsylvania chapter. "We want to encourage well-managed forests to remain forests. Working Woodlands is a win for our forests, our wildlife, our landowners, our economy and our planet," he said. "We're pleased to work with Domtar to help protect Pennsylvania's forests."