World Class Southeastern Coastal Forests Under Attack

For Immediate Release: February 6, 2008
Contact: Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance, ph: 828.251.2525 x18

World Class Southeastern Coastal Forests Swallowed Up by and Fast Food Companies

Dogwood Alliance and Local Partners Release Report Highlighting Natural Beauty, Legacy of Destruction, and Naming Key Parties to Continuing Destruction; Thousands Show Support from the Region

Asheville, NC – Earlier today, local community organizations and university students on the Virginia and North Carolina coast joined regional conservation organization, Dogwood Alliance, to release “Southeastern Swamplands and Paper Packaging,” a report on how a world class biological hotspot of diversity that includes wetland forests, is being destroyed by to make throw away packaging for large fast food corporations. In addition to the report, activists held press conferences in Norfolk, VA and Wilmington, NC and presented petitions signed by thousands of citizens calling for protection of the region’s forests.

“We are here today to shine a bright spotlight on the incredibly diverse forests of the Southeastern swampland and call on and their big customers to stop the needless destruction of our forests,” said Ruth Morrison, Campaign Organizer for Dogwood Alliance in Wilmington, NC. “The forests of coastal Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia like the Green Swamp in North Carolina and the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia should not be chopped down, chipped up, and turned into paper packaging for fast food companies like KFC, Taco Bell and McDonalds.”

The Southern Swampland region stretching from the Southeast Virginia coast across the Carolinas to the Georgia coast is an area of amazing natural beauty and unique biological diversity. It is home to unheralded aquatic and plant diversity including such species as the Venus flytrap and longleaf pine trees. Examples of wild natural places in the region that signify what the forests of the region could and should look like include the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia and North Carolina and the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina.

Southeastern coastal forests are home to incredible biological diversity, including:

* Green Swamp Region is a world-wide hotspot for endangered and rare species, including carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap and Pitcher plant
* The sourcing area for the Riegelwood mill includes substantial areas of important freshwater wetlands (4,440,712 ac), home of many species found nowhere else on the planet, including the Waccamaw Killifish, Waccamaw Darter and the Fatmucket Mussel.
* Home of rare Remnant Long-leaf Pine Savannahs reduced to less that 2% of their historic range across the uplands of the region. In Virginia the last long leaf stands are hand pollinated in an effort to restore this ecological community in the Zuni Pine Barrens.
* The sourcing area for the Franklin mill contains a large area of fresh water wetlands (5,671,194 ac) according to the National Wetlands Inventory, and is home to a diverse array of aquatic species including the white-cedar hairstreak butterfly, greater siren salamander, and the canebrake rattlesnake.

“Every time I visit The Green Swamp, I am reminded of how incredible this region once was and what it can be again,” said Juanita Roushdy, President of Cape Fear Audubon Society, and a speaker at the Wilmington, NC event. “Today we are coming together to call for greater protection of these amazing forests and an end to the long legacy of unsustainable forestry practices in the region.”

This unique region of the world has been under assault for generations by the pulp and paper industry led by . In addition to large-scale clearcutting, the swamps have been ditched and drained for decades to allow the planting of sterile, monoculture plantations to be planted in place of the native forests. Where once the incredibly unique and diverse longleaf pine – wire grass ecosystems stretched as far as the eye could see the region is now dominated by intensively managed loblolly pine plantations.

According to the report, paper packaging is the number one products being produced by in this region. Fast food companies led by Yum! Brand Foods (parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and more) and McDonalds with their overly consumptive and wasteful use of paper packaging are supporting the destruction of Southern forests with their packaging choices.

“Simple choices and creative solutions can reduce the excess and destruction while still allowing us all to enjoy the level of convenience we have come to expect,” said Scot Quaranda, Campaign Director for Dogwood Alliance. “Using less packaging, using more recycled materials, and embracing sustainable sourcing choices all add up to healthy Southern forests and thriving local communities.”

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To read and download the full report click here.

Dogwood Alliance is the only organization in the Southern United States holding corporations accountable for the impact of their industrial forestry practices on our forests and communities. In addition to holding the office supply industry accountable to their environmental commitments, Dogwood Alliance is working to stop the destructive practices of the paper packaging sector. Visit for more information.

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