The Nature Conservancy and International Paper Company, one of the world’s largest packaging, pulp and paper companies, recently completed the first of a two-phase effort to develop a suite of state-of-the-art forestry practices that others can use to create long-term solutions to global climate challenges. With initial work completed in Indonesia and Gabon, the partners are scaling up these efforts to inform responsible forestry, carbon sequestration and biodiversity monitoring in the Central Appalachian region of the U.S. and in Mexico.
This work reaches beyond International Paper’s traditional supply chain in an effort to identify natural climate solutions that can be replicated anywhere around the world.
“Thanks to our partnership with International Paper, we were able to develop science toolkits for Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) that are being integrated into Gabon and Indonesia’s national monitoring systems, and incentivizing best management practices that store more carbon in forests and mitigate climate change,” said Peter W. Ellis, NCS science team lead at TNC.
Specifically, the first phase of the partnership focused on strengthening and expanding the use of Reduced Impact Logging for Climate Mitigation (RIL-C), a menu of responsible practices that can help land managers improve carbon sequestration in working forests. Recent research published by TNC and 21 other institutions in Science Advances demonstrates that nature-based solutions such as RIL-C can help absorb one-fifth of the carbon pollution produced in the United States—30 percent more than previously estimated.
The partners also tested bioacoustics monitoring, which analyzes a forest’s sounds before and after logging occurs. So far, both approaches show promise for protecting biodiversity and keeping working forests working while balancing the economic and environmental goals of local communities.
Progress made in the tropics of Asia and Africa inform the second phase of the program during which TNC will integrate RIL-C and bioacoustic monitoring with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certification standards to establish a next generation of climate-smart, sustainable forest products in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and in the Central Appalachian region of the U.S. In addition to aligning with TNC’s mission to conserve the plants and animals on which all life depends, this second phase advances International Paper’s Vision 2030, four goals for building a better future for people and the planet. Through the goals, the company will advance its contributions to the circular, low-carbon economy while building on its commitments to ensure healthy and abundant forests for generations to come.
“We are thrilled to work with TNC on developing sustainable forestry practices that will have climate and biodiversity benefits,” says Sophie Beckham, chief sustainability officer at International Paper. “What’s more, our work in Phase I, and soon in Phase II, represents solutions that can be replicated by those who do the work on-the-ground at scale in multiple geographies around the world.”