FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Longleaf Alliance, a non-‐profit organization focused on ensuring a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem, is the proud recipient of a Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) 2014 conservation grant. This SFI funding will help expand the longleaf pine ecosystem by helping landowners maintain and expand markets for this valuable species.
“The USDA has been working with local partners to restore the longleaf ecosystem for a long time. We recognize that markets are an essential factor in motivating landowners to plant longleaf, so we’re pleased to see SFI working with The Longleaf Alliance to provide this important information to companies that use forest products,” said Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Using longleaf pine commercially is absolutely crucial for the long-‐term protection and expansion of the ecosystem. The Longleaf Alliance is using SFI funding to provide landowners with the communication tools and facts they need to show timber buyers that longleaf pine is being harvested sustainably, and that active markets are essential to its restoration. The alliance is a non-‐profit conservation organization based in Andalusia, Alabama that began as a program in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University in 1995.
“The Longleaf Alliance is committed to the sustainable use of longleaf pine as well as the restoration of the ecosystem. The reality is that private landowners are planting longleaf for conservation values such as wildlife habitat, but also for the economic values of the straw and the high-‐quality timber,” said Robert Abernethy, President of The Longleaf Alliance. “The longleaf ecosystem is growing and we want to maintain that momentum by expanding markets. This restoration has been achieved by working on our public lands but also by working on private lands to plant and manage additional longleaf acres.”
By the early 1990s, only about 2.8 million acres of this once vast and majestic forest remained. Thanks in large part to the efforts of The Longleaf Alliance and its many partners over many years, the acreage of longleaf forest has increased to about 4.4 million acres. America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, a state, federal and private partnership, has a goal to protect, restore or enhance a total of 8 million acres of longleaf pine ecosystems by 2024.
“We are pleased to be able to support The Longleaf Alliance in its efforts to encourage private landowners to keep planting longleaf pine to serve global markets, and in turn ensure the restoration and growth of this important ecosystem,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc.
The SFI grant will also enable The Longleaf Alliance to work cooperatively with partners from the private sector interested in promoting longleaf restoration, including the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Resource Management Service, LLC, Forest Investment Associates and International Paper.
The SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program fosters partnerships between organizations interested in improving forest management in the United States and Canada, and in improving responsible procurement globally. Funded projects address topics such as improving wildlife habitat management and conservation of biodiversity, protecting watersheds and critical flyways for migrating birds, and assisting local communities through forest education programs and green building projects for low-‐income families.
Since 2010, SFI has awarded more than 50 conservation partnership grants totaling more than $1.9 million to foster research and pilot efforts to better inform future decisions about our forests. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $7.1 million.