International Paper has struck a deal with the U.S. Department of the Interior to conduct extensive ecological surveys and conservation projects to help recover imperiled aquatic species and restore their habitat.
The 10-year deal involves 5.5 million acres of IP’s forest lands in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The Interior department will assist IP in the project, which covers an area larger than the state of Massachusetts.
International Paper, which employs about 3,000 people in Memphis, is the world’s largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include printing papers, packaging, building materials, chemical products and distribution.
IP is the largest private landowner in the United States, with some 10 million acres of forest land. It is also the world’s largest seedling grower, producing more than 425 million seedlings annually.
The Southeast is the center of temperate aquatic diversity. Freshwater ecosystems there feature the highest diversity of freshwater mussels and temperate freshwater fishes in the world.
Nearly one-third of the 500 native fishes in those states are considered imperiled, and about 75% of the Southeast’s 270 species of mu