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Endangered-Forest-Mapping-Innovation

Mapping for More Sustainable Forests

By: Deborah Baker, vice president – sustainable forestry, environmental and community outreach

Updated Mon November 14, 2016

Endangered-Forest-Mapping-Innovation

An endangered forest near the Chowan River in northeastern North Carolina -- one of the millions of acres of endangered forests and special areas where Georgia-Pacific has committed to not buy fiber.

While we value our forests, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the valuable, but intangible benefits they provide, such as offering habitat for a variety of wildlife, maintaining species diversity, and improving air and water quality.  

Our customers and communities highly value these resources, so in 2010, we expanded our sustainable forestry efforts with an updated policy to better identify and protect U.S. forests in our key supply regions across the South. Using a well-grounded scientific methodology, coupled with the latest geographic technology, we undertook an effort to map endangered forests and special areas.

We applied screening layers – such as high biodiversity, rare forest type, and concentrations of rare and endangered species – to identify those lands that were the “rarest of the rare.”  These areas were then ground-truthed to make sure they had the high conservation values identified during the mapping process. 

Over a five-year period, we identified 4.5 million acres of forestland that we believed needed additional safeguards to protect their special values.  As a result, we will not buy fiber from these areas except in unique situations when active forest management is needed to improve habitat for endangered, rare and/or vulnerable species.

We trained more than 100 foresters to identify and locate endangered forests and special areas in their regions.  In turn, they have met with landowners and fiber suppliers to make them aware of Georgia-Pacific’s commitments about fiber sourcing in these areas. Our employees who process incoming loads of logs also have received training and are critical to ensuring that fiber is coming from appropriate sources.

We’re honored that The American Forest & Paper Association recently recognized our mapping effort with a 2016 Innovation in Sustainability Award. Protecting the broad societal benefits of these areas as well as promoting and supporting sustainable forestry is critical for future generations. 


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