At Enviva, our work connects us directly to Southern forests every day. From Enviva’s beginnings, we have been determined to leave these forests better than we found them. And while the Enviva Forest Credo – our guiding sustainability policy – makes clear our commitment to protecting special places in the forest and not accepting wood from sensitive areas, our efforts at continuous improvement should lead us to do more. We are proud to establish the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, a $5 million, 10-year program designed to protect tens of thousands of acres of bottomland forests in northeast North Carolina and southeast Virginia. The $5 million, 10-year Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will help achieve these goals.
With the help of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Enviva is identifying and protecting sensitive areas and financially assisting private landowners in conserving and protecting forested land. The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will deliver tangible environmental and economic benefits to the Virginia and North Carolina communities Enviva serves.
Although Enviva is a young company, we have both the privilege of being a leader and the responsibility to do the right thing. Enviva’s core values include integrity and a commitment to sustainability, and the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is a tangible demonstration of these values in action.
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will award matching-fund grants to nonprofit organizations, and in partnership with these groups the goal is to preserve about 35,000 acres of bottomland forests. The $5 million Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will focus on the coastal plain of North Carolina and Virginia, which is home to three wood pellet plants and a deep-water marine terminal operated by Enviva.
Enviva has never harvested nor accepted wood from old growth forests, but Enviva always strives to do more. The bottomland forest stewardship program builds on Enviva’s existing sustainability policies. The Endowment has identified four specific types of bottomland forest ecosystems, in consultation with leading independent academic and environmental organizations. These areas will be priority conservation target areas for the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund.
Although the vast majority of Enviva’s wood comes from areas other than bottomland forests, Enviva will work with the Endowment to catalog and protect these four sensitive habitats and to document the company and its suppliers do not cause them harm.
To our knowledge, this commitment is unique in the industry and Enviva is proud to lead on this issue.
The Endowment has enormous expertise in conservation and environmental issues; in particular, the Endowment’s leadership team has previously designed and administered conservation programs similar to the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. The Endowment also has deep relationships with stakeholders critical to the success of the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, including government agencies, leading independent non-profit conservation organizations, forestry officials and private landowners.
Enviva has always been clear that there are special places in the forests that should remain so. To do more and be even more specific about those special places, Enviva is working with the Endowment. In consultation with other leading independent academic and environmental organizations, the Endowment has identified four distinct ecosystems that are environmentally sensitive in the areas where Enviva works: cypress-tupelo swamps, Atlantic white cedar stands, pocosins and Carolina bays.
Enviva does not harvest nor accept wood from old growth forests, but the company always strives to do more. It has never been Enviva’s intended practice to accept wood from the areas identified by the Endowment and the company will not accept wood from them going forward. Most important, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will focus its conservation grants on these areas in an effort to permanently conserve them as forests.
Enviva’s bottomland forest stewardship program builds on the company’s existing sustainability policies. To our knowledge, this commitment is unique in the industry and Enviva is proud to lead on this issue.
Enviva’s staff of foresters has clearly spelled out the details of its sustainability policy for the company’s suppliers. Enviva will provide its suppliers with information about the four types of sensitive areas identified by the Endowment on an ongoing basis. Enviva will not work with any supplier that violates the company’s policy against accepting wood from these areas.
Just as important, Enviva has developed and instituted a proprietary “track and trace” system that will enable the company to identify the source of each truckload of wood it uses. This system, which should be fully implemented in early 2016, will provide Enviva with a comprehensive description of the raw material, including its geographic origin, age, size, species and forest characteristics.
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund’s $5 million in matching grants will give private forest landowners significant incentives to keep their land in forest cover permanently. The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will be particularly appealing to landowners because it provides them a financially attractive alternative to selling their land for development or converting it to other uses. Many have owned their land for generations and want to keep it in forest cover. The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will help make this possible.
The Endowment will accept applications from nonprofit organizations, and the first grant or grants from its $5 million fund will be awarded in 2016. The Endowment has already had informal conversations about the program with several organizations that have expressed interest in participating.
“The coastal forests of Virginia are a precious natural resource, and the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will play an important role in protecting and conserving them. Programs such as the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund help families and other landowners keep these forests as forests for generations to come. Both our environment and our communities benefit when private industry develops and supports these types of conservation efforts.”
“Enviva is one of the fastest-growing companies in the wood pellet industry. It turns byproducts of sawtimber harvests into renewable fuel that is in great demand around the world. By creating this Forest Conservation Fund, Enviva is ensuring that North Carolina’s bottomland forests will be sustained and protected for generations to come.”
“Ensuring that working forests are sound habitats for a wide range of bird species includes maintaining diversity within individual forest stands and at the landscape level. Enviva’s plan to identify and protect specific wetland forest types, such as Atlantic White Cedar, and to continue to enhance management of working forests, is a great step toward this goal for the Coastal Plain of Virginia and North Carolina.”
“Increasingly, conservation successes will be defined by the convergence of business and the environment. The partnership of the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and Enviva is a great example of how the innovation of business can accelerate the achievement of conservation on the ground. The enhanced management of family-owned forests, the permanent protection of the most sensitive areas, and the clear signal that healthy markets for forest products translates into forests being kept as forests rather than being converted to shopping centers, all are great outcomes of this strong partnership.”
“I commend Enviva for their new initiative to conserve bottomland hardwood forests in North Carolina. This project is a great example of private enterprise leading conservation efforts across our state.”
“I applaud the Endowment and Enviva for this innovative and positive agreement to ensure conservation and management of our critical forested wetland habitats. This agreement is the model of how corporate America can and should work to truly define sustainability for the future. Enviva’s commitment to protect diminishing hardwoods, cedars, pocosins and bays will help ensure a healthy future for both important habitats and forest product supply.”
“The hardwood forests of the Southeast have been actively harvested for centuries. Unfortunately, all-too-often harvesting was done by ‘tak’n the best and leav’n the rest’. What’s often needed to restore those forest to resiliency and to help keep the forests healthy and productive are markets for the low-value trees left behind. The Enviva/Endowment plan is to harvest and allow for natural regeneration on operable sites while protecting stands on fragile soils in order to accomplish both economic and ecological objectives.”
“The raw materials that supply the wide range of forest products – from paper to lumber and more – are heavily dependent upon stewardship by our nation’s family forest owners. Just paying the annual taxes, insurance and maintenance on those lands can be a challenge. To have a for-profit corporation commit to helping fund long-term forest conservation efforts to help these landowners defray part of these costs and keep their forests as forests benefits us all.”
“An enduring commitment to sustainable forest management and a diversity of strong markets for wood products helped forest owners and managers increase the volume of growing trees in our country by 50 percent since the 1950s. Those forests provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities and economic benefits that improve the quality of life of millions of Americans. Conservation efforts are central to the business of sustainable forestry, helping to protect unique places and sensitive areas essential to the overall health and vitality of our forests. We applaud Enviva’s commitment to sustainable forestry and the people who make it possible.”
“Our agency believes in strong forest markets and the simultaneous conservation of declining forest types. We look forward to working closely with the partners to achieve effective landowner outreach, timely reforestation and active management that will strengthen forest health.”