NORFOLK, Va., April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) has made substantial progress on its Trees and Trains reforestation program, planting 2.4 million trees on 4,000 acres in four states in the ecologically important Mississippi Delta.
The Trees and Trains project is a five-year reforestation and carbon sequestration project to plant six million trees on 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) with GreenTrees®, the leading reforestation program on private lands in the U.S. The $5.6 million project, in its third year, is the largest carbon reforestation project in the nation. Over time, the trees will generate 1.12 million tons of carbon-offset credits, significantly offsetting the railroad's CO2 emissions.
Considered North America's "Amazon," the MAV is the nation's largest watershed and a vital habitat for numerous wildlife species. Forest once covered 25 million acres of the valley, but most of the land was converted to agricultural production, and today only four million acres of forest remain. Trees and Trains calls for creating a permanent forest. Under the program, landowners receive carbon payments for planting trees instead of crops on marginal or frequently flooded land.
GreenTrees Managing Partner Chandler Van Voorhis explains, "Landowners retain the use of their acreage and can earn additional income through recreational usage, conservation tax benefits, and timber sales. These agreements encourage long-term storage of carbon dioxide in the trees, roots, and soil on the land."In 2008, after 50 years of farming, landowner Bobby Petrus of Monroe, La., converted his 1,162 acres of farmland from cotton, corn, and beans to hardwood trees to lock in a steady income without the seasonal risks of traditional farming. "The trees have provided us with a more reliable source of income than the crops we had planted in the past," Petrus says. "Our family is very satisfied with the success. The growth and survival rate on the inter-planted cottonwoods and hardwoods has been astounding."