WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - November 17, 2016) - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the American Forest Foundation (AFF) today announced the launch of the Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Partnership (Partnership), which will help Southern family forest owners protect at-risk wildlife, while at the same time encouraging sustainable wood production. Through the Partnership, AFF and NFWF have committed to providing $7.5 million in grant funding over the next seven years, to collaborative projects in important geographies that help family forest owners manage for wildlife. This new grant funding is the largest part of AFF's $11 million initiative in the South to provide tools and resources to help family forest landowners with the stewardship of their lands.
Southern forests, rivers and streams are some of the most biologically diverse in the world. But, due to historical trends and present day pressures that have effected this forested ecosystem, there are 224 forest-dependent fish and wildlife species in the South already listed as threatened or endangered, with an additional 293 species petitioned or under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional office for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The South is also the wood "basket" for the country. Nearly 60 percent of the wood harvested in the U.S. comes from the Southeast, which also equates to more than 16 percent of the commercial wood produced for the entire global market.
"Our Southern forests are key to providing both wildlife habitat and wood supplies for Americans," said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. "Family landowners, who own nearly 60 percent of the forest land in the South, want to manage and help at-risk wildlife. And what's more, our recent analysis shows that managing for wood and wildlife go hand-in-hand. We are excited to launch this new Partnership with NFWF that will bring new resources and support to help families accomplish both objectives on the land."
"Our work in the South has reinforced the importance of private landowner conservation, so we very much welcome this opportunity to join with the American Forest Foundation to launch the Southern Woods for At-Risk Wildlife Partnership," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "NFWF's experience building public-private partnerships, when combined with AFF's existing relationships with family landowners, expertise with developing data-driven landowner engagement strategies, and commitment to building sustained capacity, will enable a more effective and lasting approach to restoring fish and wildlife while keeping working forests working across the southeastern United States."
This Partnership responds to findings of a recent AFF report Southern Wildlife At Risk: Family Forest Owners Offer a Solution, which details the important role family-owned forests play in protecting at-risk wildlife and providing sustainable wood supplies.
The report includes findings of a south-wide survey of family landowners through which AFF found that 87 percent of landowners say protecting and improving wildlife habitat is a key reason they own land, and 73 percent state they want to do more for wildlife in the future. What is preventing most landowners from doing more is a lack of certainty that they are employing the best possible management practices, as well as difficulty finding support, and the cost of management.
What's more, the survey also found that it is possible to both protect at-risk wildlife and continue to meet the demands for sustainable wood from family lands. The report shows how, contrary to popular belief, landowners who harvest or thin their forests are the individuals doing more for wildlife. In fact, 85 percent of those who have harvested have also implemented other wildlife-improvement activities.
The Partnership will fund projects through existing NFWF grant programs that measurably improve habitat on family forests for forest-dependent, at-risk wildlife while encouraging sustainable wood supplies in the South. These projects will build on-the-ground capacity among local partners in priority landscapes to connect with landowners through strategic outreach and long-term relationship building, and help landowners overcome barriers to sustainable forest management. In doing this, the Partnership seeks to increase the number of families actively stewarding their forests for both wildlife and sustainable wood supplies.
Key focal areas of the Partnership will include conservation of forest-dependent fish, wildlife and habitats within coastal plains and piedmont forest ecosystems in the South. The Partnership intends to support 11 local, collaborative projects to engage at least 1,600 landowners in specific on-the-ground actions on 48,500 acres that improve at-risk wildlife habitat and advance sustainable wood supplies.
For additional information on funding opportunities available through the Partnership, please visit the following program sites: Longleaf Stewardship Fund and Cumberland Plateau Stewardship Fund.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation's wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About the American Forest Foundation
The American Forest Foundation, as a forest conservation organization, helps ensure family and private forest owners have the tools and resources they need to manage their forests and measurably improve the wildlife habitat, clean water and sustainable wood supplies that Americans count on. In the Southern U.S. in particular, the American Forest Foundation is helping landowners get started managing so they can address the biggest ecological and economical issues facing our forested habitat, which will help protect at-risk species across the region.