Verso Paper Corp. (NYSE:VRS) today announced its participation in a partnership with Time Inc., Hearst Enterprises, National Geographic, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative ® (SFI ®), and other forest products companies in Maine to promote sustainable forest management principles and initiatives. “Verso and its partners are to be congratulated for building on the Maine pilot to expand the partnership and increase the amount of lands certified to the SFI Standard,” said SFI President and CEO, Kathy Abusow. This partnership is an extension of a pilot project completed last year in Maine that provided support to private landowners by creating a more cost effective certification process and offering resources to support responsible forest management practices. Last year’s pilot project resulted in an additional 620,000 acres certified to the SFI and the American Tree Farm System ® standards in Maine, an 8.3% increase. This year’s partnership effort will use the experience learned from the pilot project and involve a new group of landowners who recognized the value in the improved and thorough process that came out of last year’s pilot. This new partnership effort is expected to result in over 600,000 additional acres becoming certified under the SFI Standard. Importantly, the project will meet the needs of small and medium-sized landowners by further validating a more cost effective certification process and providing resources to support forest management best practices. “Verso has strategically taken a leadership role over the years to promote forest certification by developing partnerships and providing support to a variety of stakeholders with similar values,” said Craig Liska, Vice President of Sustainability for Verso. Last year’s pilot project and this year’s extension have resulted in a growing number of landowners showing interest in this improved certification process. Verso believes the increased awareness and understanding of the value this new certification process offers will prompt others to join the effort and promote further growth of the program in Maine and other states.
“Verso is very excited about this latest partnership and looks forward to seeing the increase in certified acreage in Maine along with the sustainable forest management practices that accompany this certification effort,” continued Mr. Liska. “As a manufacturer and marketer of paper products, Verso recognizes and embraces our responsibility to support healthy, viable forests as a renewable resource for generations to come.”About Verso Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Verso Paper Corp. is a leading North American producer of coated papers, including coated groundwood and coated freesheet, and supercalendered and specialty products. Verso's paper products are used primarily in media and marketing applications, including magazines, catalogs and commercial printing applications such as high-end advertising brochures, annual reports and direct-mail advertising. Additional information about Verso is available on the Company's website at www.versopaper.com. References to "Verso" or the "Company" mean Verso Paper Corp. and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. Forward-Looking Statements In this press release, all statements that are not purely historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "plan," "estimate," "intend," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on currently available business, economic, financial, and other information and reflect management's current beliefs, expectations, and views with respect to future developments and their potential effects on Verso. Actual results could vary materially depending on risks and uncertainties that may affect Verso and its business. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Verso's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Verso assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement made in this press release to reflect subsequent events or circumstances or actual outcomes.