Comprehensive Initiative to Protect Sensitive Bottomland Forests in
BETHESDA, Md. & GREENVILLE, S.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Enviva Holdings, LP (“Enviva”), the world’s largest producer of wood
pellets, today announced it is establishing 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 Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, administered by the U.S. Endowment
for Forestry and Communities (the “Endowment”), will award matching-fund
grants to nonprofit organizations to permanently protect ecologically
sensitive areas and conserve working forests. The $5 million Enviva
Forest Conservation Fund will focus on the Virginia-North Carolina
coastal plain, an area that is home to three wood pellet production
facilities and a deep-water marine terminal owned by Enviva.
“With the launch of the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, Enviva will
work with leading conservation organizations to identify areas of
special concern and provide grants to permanently conserve thousands of
acres of this forestland,” said John Keppler, Chairman and CEO of
Enviva. “Enviva has always believed there are special places in the
forest that should remain so. For instance, we have never harvested nor
have we accepted wood from old growth forests.”
“Although we are small – in 2014 our entire industry accounted for less
than one-tenth of one percent of America’s forest inventory – as a young
company in a new field, we want to be known for always doing the right
thing,” Keppler added. “We are deeply committed to keeping America’s
working forests healthy and growing, and protecting our forests for our
families and future generations. That’s what the Enviva Forest
Conservation Fund is all about.”
In addition to the sizable grant program, the Enviva Forest Conservation
Fund is underpinned by two bottomland forest stewardship pillars that
expand Enviva’s commitment to protecting the region’s forests and
environmentally sensitive areas:
First, the Endowment has identified four specific types of sensitive
bottomland forest ecosystems through consultation with leading
independent academic and environmental organizations. These areas will
be priority conservation targets 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.
Second, the Endowment will appoint a science-based review team to
develop enhanced forestry practices for working bottomland forests,
building on the generations-old tradition of sustainable forestry for
these lands. This “blue-ribbon committee” will recommend specific
additional measures to define and protect sensitive areas, which
Enviva will incorporate into its wood supply practices.
“The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund’s grants and Enviva’s enhanced
sustainable practices will protect and conserve forests and provide
working, bottomland forest owners with markets which will keep these
forests as forests,” Keppler said. “The commitments we are making today
are unique in our industry and we are proud to lead on these important
issues. Our program will deliver tangible environmental and economic
benefits to Virginia and North Carolina.”
“Southern forests help clean our water, shield us from storms, and serve
as home to many species of wildlife, while at the same time providing
jobs and economic opportunity for rural families and private
landowners,” said Carlton N. Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO.
“The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will permanently protect some of
the most sensitive bottomland forests in Virginia and North Carolina and
will improve the sustainable management of others. We are especially
pleased to be working with Enviva to advance these important goals.”
“Enviva’s investment in environmental stewardship will help conserve the
sensitive forest areas of North Carolina and Virginia,” said William K.
Reilly, former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
and an independent board member of Enviva Partners, LP (NYSE:EVA) who
chairs the board’s Health, Safety, Sustainability and Environment
Committee. “These steps will help preserve biodiversity in sensitive
areas, conserve special forests where Enviva works, and continue to
provide economic opportunities for the communities Enviva serves.”
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will focus on about 35 North
Carolina and Virginia counties that include about 6 million acres of
forests of all types. Of this total, about 20 percent are bottomland
forests – low-lying, marshy areas near rivers and streams that are home
to tree species such as cypress, gum and oak. Many of these bottomlands
are in the Albemarle Sound drainage basin along the Roanoke, Chowan,
Meherrin, Nottoway and Blackwater rivers.
Although the vast majority of Enviva’s wood supply does not come from
bottomland forests, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is targeting
these areas because they offer a wide range of environmental and
economic benefits. They also face a number of potential threats,
including conversion to other uses.
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund
Permanently protecting sensitive bottomland forests is the cornerstone
of the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund. Enviva will contribute $5
million to the fund in annual installments over 10 years. The Enviva
Forest Conservation Fund’s goal is to be a catalyst that will attract
other conservation investments to the region, with the goal of
conserving 35,000 acres of bottomland forests.
Each year, the Endowment will solicit grant applications, asking
qualified organizations to identify specific bottomland tracts that are
eligible for protection. Grants will be awarded annually, starting in
2016. The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will consider a variety of
protection strategies, including purchasing land via fee or conservation
easement, and grant making priority will be given to organizations that
bring matching funds.
“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,”
Owen said. “Many have owned their land for generations and want to keep
it in forest cover. The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will help make
The Enviva Bottomland Stewardship Program
To produce wood pellets, Enviva does not use high-grade wood (also
called saw logs) that could be milled into furniture or lumber. Enviva
uses only low-grade or leftover materials such as crooked or diseased
trees, limbs, tops, chips and sawdust, and where markets allow,
pulpwood. Enviva does not accept wood that is harvested from old growth
forests or other sensitive areas.
To prioritize grant-making opportunities for the Enviva Forest
Conservation Fund, the Endowment identified four distinct ecosystems
worthy of conservation: cypress-tupelo swamps, Atlantic white cedar
stands, pocosins and Carolina bays. In developing its recommendations,
the Endowment consulted with a range of other organizations, including
state forestry agencies in Virginia and North Carolina, the U.S. Forest
Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation
Service, and land trusts in both states.
These four wetland ecosystems and forest types contain some of the most
unique plant and wildlife communities found across the Atlantic coastal
plain. They provide a range of important environmental benefits,
including improving water quality and maintaining wildlife habitats.
Additional forest types or landscape features may be added to this list
as a result of the science-based management practices review. Enviva’s
proprietary “track and trace” system, which utilizes tract-level, GPS
coordinates to trace every wood delivery to the company, will be used to
verify that the company’s sustainability policies are observed.
The Endowment Review Team
To continue its work identifying sensitive bottomland forest tracts, and
to develop enhanced sustainable management practices for bottomland
forestry, the Endowment will appoint and administer a science-based
review team composed of environmental and forestry experts. The
committee will be funded by the Endowment and Enviva.
This “blue-ribbon committee” will begin work in 2016. The Endowment will
seek committee members from state forestry and wildlife agencies,
universities and conservation groups to build on Best Management
Practices that protect water quality and go further to address a broad
range of ecological attributes.
For more information on the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund visit www.envivaforestfund.org.
About Enviva Holdings, LP
Enviva Holdings, LP is the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, a
renewable and sustainable energy source used to generate electricity and
heat. Through its subsidiaries, Enviva Holdings, LP owns and operates
six plants in the southeastern United States that produce about 2.2
million metric tons of wood pellets annually. We export our pellets
primarily to power plants in the United Kingdom and Europe that
previously were fueled by coal, enabling them to reduce their carbon
footprint by about 80 percent. We make our pellets using sustainable
practices that protect Southern forests. And we employ about 600 people
and support many other businesses in the rural South, where jobs and
economic opportunity are sometimes scarce.
Enviva Holdings, LP conducts its activities primarily through two
entities: Enviva Partners, LP, a publicly-traded master limited
partnership (NYSE: EVA), and Enviva Development Holdings, LLC, a
wholly-owned private company.
To learn more about Enviva Holdings, LP and its subsidiaries, please
visit our website at www.envivabiomass.com.
About The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
The Endowment is a not-for-profit corporation established in 2006 at the
request of the governments of the United States and Canada. The
Endowment works collaboratively with partners in the public and private
sectors to advance systemic, transformative and sustainable change for
the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and
To learn more about the Endowment, please visit our website at www.usendowment.org.