Forestland Stewards Initiative Will Restore Southern Forests, Protect Critical Habitats and Support Local EconomiesWASHINGTON, March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- International Paper today announced a $7.5 million gift to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create a pioneering partnership to conserve and restore southern forestlands that represent some of America's most iconic landscapes, critical habitats for endangered wildlife and jobs for one million workers. The Forestland Stewards initiative expects to generate an additional $22.5 million through collaborative efforts, expanding the original gift to an on-the-ground conservation impact of $30 million. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130307/DC73059) The partnership aims to restore, protect and enhance 200,000 acres of forests across eight southern states—the low country of North and South Carolina, the Cumberland plateau in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, and the piney woods on the Louisiana- Texas border. International Paper has nine mills and several other facilities located in these regions, affording IP employees an opportunity for hands-on conservation contributions in their local areas. "Forest stewardship has been a part of our company's DNA for 115 years," said International Paper's Chairman and CEO John Faraci. "With this partnership we can continue that commitment to protect and restore landscapes for generations to come." "This public-private partnership is a 21 st century model for conserving and expanding America's most vulnerable natural areas," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, one of the nation's largest funders of conservation projects. "The goal is to enhance and connect forest systems to create seamless habitats for wildlife and more sustainable forests to support local economies." The Southern pine, oak and savanna woodlands of the three regions were selected for the project because they represent some of the most biologically diverse natural areas in the world and are a significant source of manufacturing jobs in several southern states.