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                      In 1956, we purchased our first southeastern timberlands in Mississippi and Alabama. Today, we own almost 7 million acres of timberlands located across 11 southern states. These timberlands grow on a variety of landforms, from the rich organic soils of eastern North Carolina to shallower, rocky soils of the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Diverse climatic conditions and landscapes ranging from low and broad flatwoods, hills and bottoms, to steep hillsides and mountains create unique challenges and opportunities for growing trees. However, forests of this region benefit from long growing seasons and a mild climate, making them highly productive.

                      Through incorporation of decades of research, we sustainably grow timber while conserving important environmental attributes of these ecosystems. Across our southern ownership, we work to maintain or enhance diverse wildlife habitat conditions and provide a home for terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, including a number of federally and state-protected species and species of concern. Through the application of best management practices and implementation of forest certification standards, we protect water quality in streams, from small intermittent channels to large rivers, as well as lakes and reservoirs. Much of our ownership is in large, contiguous blocks which provides important wildlife habitat and water quality protection in an increasingly fragmented landscape.

                      FOREST MANAGEMENT

                      The southeastern U.S. was primarily forested when Europeans first arrived and the forests and wildlife living within were viewed as inexhaustible resources. Most of these lands were logged and converted to agricultural uses in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1940s, based on an emerging conservation ethic, many agricultural lands began to be reforested. The advent of active forest management in the 1950s created an economic incentive for forest management. Much of the land we own in the southeastern U.S. was formerly agricultural land that has been reforested.

                      We maximize wood growth and value by practicing intensive forest management on most of our ownership in this region.  Even-aged managed pine stands are generally harvested between 25 and 35 years of age, followed by a variety of site-preparation methods tailored to site conditions. Site-preparation methods are employed to ensure successful regeneration of each harvest site, typically within 1 to 2 years of final harvest, and can include both mechanical and chemical treatments. Pine seedlings are planted in rows by hand or machine. Once the planted trees are between 10 and 15 years old, the stands are thinned to reduce competition among the remaining trees and accelerate their growth into quality sawtimber.


                      Although the focus of our forest management practices is maximizing wood production, we also include elements to ensure the protection of environmental quality and conservation of water, soil, and wildlife resources. Environmental management includes measures to protect aquatic ecosystems and provide habitat for sensitive species.

                      The primary conservation measure used to protect aquatic habitats is the establishment of buffers along water bodies. Trees retained in buffers are never harvested or are selectively harvested to achieve site-specific conservation objectives.

                      Over many decades, our environmental research programs have documented numerous "species of conservation interest" that use our southern timberlands. These range from bird species that rely on young forests, such as prairie warblers, to aquatic-dependent species such as spotted turtles, to species that require a variety of habitat types, such as bats. Of most concern are species listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Across our southern ownership, we provide habitat for many of these species, including the Red Hills salamander in Alabama; the gopher tortoise in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; the red wolf in North Carolina; and the recently delisted bald eagle in all of our 11 southern states of ownership. In some cases, these species are protected by official agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or other agencies.

                      In North Carolina, we protect 5,650 acres of our land across eight counties that contain remnants of the original, old-growth Atlantic coast forest - an extremely rare forest type in today’s modern landscape. The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy received grants to secure easements that will prevent future development on these lands. We donated easements and are conserving some land through the North Carolina natural heritage registry, including our Cool Springs Environmental Education Center, which hosts more than 2,500 students each year.

                      RESEARCH AND PARTNERSHIPS 

                      To sustainably manage our forests, we continue to learn more about upland and riparian ecosystems and how our activities affect them. We partner with other organizations to fill knowledge gaps and ensure that our practices are consistent with the best available science.

                      In Mississippi and Alabama, we are working with scientists from universities and agencies to better understand distribution and habitat requirements of mussels and crayfish. The southern US is a hotspot of crayfish diversity but also contains a large number of species without enough data to assess conservation status. The southeast also contains the most diverse mussel fauna of any region globally.

                      We are supporting mussel research in the Sipsey River that consists of long-term sampling to evaluate stream water and habitat conditions and associate these with mussel presence and population productivity. Previous surveys have shown properly managed forests compatible with mussel diversity, and this work is identifying specific habitat needs as well as the location of healthy communities.

                      We are participating in a study to learn more about burrowing crayfish, which are disproportionately endangered. This work is identifying riparian and groundwater characteristics that support healthy burrowing crayfish communities. A recent field collection on a Weyerhaeuser site found a Celestial Crayfish, only known to occur in one other place.

                      These studies are conducted by scientists with universities and agencies from many disciplines. Not only do we provide financial support and site access for important ecological research, we participate in data collection and logistical support. We communicate findings with our foresters to ensure everyone understands the importance of high-quality implementation of best management practices.

                      Send us feedback about our forests in the Southern U.S.