In celebration of the International Day of Forests on March 21, Eastman, Eastman Foundation and GP Cellulose worked with The Longleaf Alliance (LLA) to provide 60,000 longleaf pine seedlings to Torreya State Park in Northwest Florida. This conservation collaboration is intended to help protect forest ecosystems, support delicate wildlife communities, and help repair the planet for future generations.
The planting is part of a larger effort to restore important longleaf habitats that provide homes to endangered, threatened and at-risk species such as the gopher tortoise and the eastern indigo snake. Restoring longleaf pine forests can also help protect Florida's water quality.
The Torreya State Park site was selected because of the devastation to the area from Hurricane Michael in 2018. Eastman Foundation and GP funded the conservation project due to their shared commitment to restoring and maintaining these fragile forest ecosystems.
"Eastman recently announced our vision for A Better Circle to address climate change, mainstream circularity and build a more inclusive and equitable world," said Jon Woods, general manager, textiles for Eastman. "As part of this vision, we also announced our Naia™ sustainability commitments, where our Naia™ team underlines our full commitment to the protection of forest ecosystems across the globe. We are proud to work with The Longleaf Alliance and Georgia Pacific to restore a threatened ecosystem so that it may thrive once more for future generations. Through the restoration of the longleaf habitat at Torreya State Park, we pledge to educate communities on the importance of responsible forest management, playing our part in building awareness on the vital role of forests."
According to the Florida Forestry Association, there are 17 million acres of forestland in Florida, covering almost half of the state's total land area. The forest industry contributes $25 billion to the state's economy, and ten counties economically depend on the forest industry.
Hurricane Michael's destructive path inflicted damage to more than 1.4 million acres of forest, including severe damage to about 96% of the longleaf pine forests in Liberty County, where the planting took place.
"Our support of reestablishing the longleaf habitat and the diverse ecosystem it enables is one of many ways we demonstrate our commitment to sustainable forestry," said Munir Abdallah, president of GP Cellulose. "Since 2015, Georgia-Pacific has supported 10 longleaf planting projects that added well over 400,000 seedlings in the Southeast. Doing business in a sustainable way and contributing to a healthy environment is an expectation we have of ourselves and that our customers now have of us."
"Guiding the restoration, stewardship, and conservation of longleaf pine ecosystems is core to the function of The Longleaf Alliance. We are thrilled to be working with Eastman, GP Cellulose and Florida State Parks to restore longleaf habitat at Torreya State Park. By restoring this area back to longleaf, the park will be building a healthy forest that is not only one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in North America, but also provides tremendous value through forest products, reduced wildfire risk and protection of source water quality," says Carol Denhof, President of LLA.
The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. This year's theme is "Forests and Biodiversity." The Torreya State Park planting campaign both supports and celebrates this theme.