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Deal inked for private land save.

International Paper (IP) has joined with two conservation groups to protect 218,000 acres of forest across 10 states. IP calls it the largest private land conservation sale in the history of the South and one of the largest nationwide.

Under the agreement, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will acquire more than 173,000 acres in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Conservation Fund will acquire more than 5,000 acres in Florida and 500 in North Carolina. Together they will purchase an additional 39,000 acres in South Carolina.

The land includes some of IP's most ecologically important lands, and most will remain working forests. International Paper will receive about $300 million for the land. Timber will be sustainably harvested from some of the land and a set amount supplied to IP for local production. The majority of the lands are located along rivers and estuaries such as the Perdido River on the border of Florida and Alabama, IP said.

Bald eagles, black bears, and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers live on the lands. Several tracts also link existing public and private conservation areas.

Steve McCormick, TNC president and CEO, said in the release, "It is only through partnerships among state and federal agencies, companies like International Paper, private landowners and nonprofit organizations that we can hope to conserve the South's natural heritage and quality of life."

"Thanks to the support and commitment of our partners," Conservation Fund president Larry Selzer said, "these important lands will protect wildlife habitat, enhance air and water quality, support local economies and provide exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities for future generations."

America's forest acreage is declining at an alarming pace (see "Timberlands in Turmoil," Winter 2006), which threatens wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and clean air and water. IP said it would continue to explore opportunities with private and nonprofit groups interested in its land holdings.
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Title Annotation:News from the world of Trees; International Paper in tree conservation deal
Publication:American Forests
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Words:313
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