Environmentalists Applaud Bowater’s Dedication to Action; Request Company’s Follow-Through in Impending Land Sales
Asheville, North Carolina – Today marked the first anniversary of a landmark agreement between Bowater, Inc, one of the Southern United States’ largest paper producers, and environmental groups Dogwood Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The agreement set forth a plan to preserve and protect the unique forested landscapes of the Cumberland Plateau and the Southern U.S. The accord marked the first commitment by a large paper producer to dramatically alter its forest management practices, including ending conversion of native forests to sterile pine plantations.
Over the last year, Bowater has already taken dramatic and important steps toward altering its most damaging practices. Most importantly, Bowater has nearly eliminated conversion of native hardwood forests to pine plantations on company lands and the company has begun the process of educating landowners it purchases trees from that Bowater will no longer accept fiber from land that has been converted to plantations after the end of next year.
In addition implementation of tighter controls on Bowater’s aerial spraying operations, have included notifying local land owners of intent to spray and switching from fixed wing airplanes to helicopters in order to exert tighter control over applications. The company has also conducted a study of thousands of acres of its holdings in conjunction with the state of Tennessee in order to identify areas in need of greater protection and has not logged or put any of these lands on the market for sale with its other landholdings pending completion and full analysis of the study.
“We congratulate Bowater on its good faith effort to adhere to the agreement and substantially improve its forestry practices,” said Andrew Goldberg, Implementation Director for Dogwood Alliance. “Whereas many companies, like , continue to blow hot air when it comes to the environment, Bowater is really putting its money where its mouth is.”
It is a time of transition for the forest products industry as millions of acres of commercial timberland have recently been sold across the Southeast and Bowater announced plans in November 2005 to sell 365,000 acres of timber lands in the region, primarily in Tennessee. While the sale of Bowater’s Southern timberlands will undoubtedly effect implementation of the agreement, the company will remain a key player impacting Southern forests and will continue to be the largest paper producer on the Cumberland Plateau.
Regardless of any transfers in ownership of its timberlands, the cornerstone of the agreement, Bowater’s commitment to stop buying pine fiber from third-party landowners that convert natural forests to pine plantations after 2007, will remain in effect. After the sale it is anticipated that Bowater will continue to source heavily from these and other timberlands across the Cumberland Plateau. This agreement will provide critical protection for this special area, which is one of the most biologically important areas on the continent, and stands as a crucial environmental benchmark for the entire paper industry.
“It is our hope that future owners of Bowater’s forestland will uphold the spirit set forth by this ground-breaking commitment,” continued Goldberg. “We trust that the company will set the right course by selling the most special places to conservation buyers and identify stewardship minded forestry operations for a vast majority of its remaining lands.”
# # #
To read the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Bowater, Dogwood Alliance, and NRDC, visit: Bowater Memorandum of Understanding Summary
Dogwood Alliance is a network of over seventy organizations around the Southern United States working to end unsustainable industrial forestry practices. For more information about Dogwood Alliance, visit: http://www.dogwoodalliance.org/