IP and NFWF Celebrate the Role of Sustainable Forest Management in Conserving Habitat for the Swallow-Tailed Kite and Other Feathered Friends

May 13, 2023 11:00 AM ET
two people helping a bird

To mark World Migratory Bird Day, International Paper (IP) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) are celebrating how sustainable forestry provides critical habitat for birds and at the same time, delivers a sustainable, renewable source of fiber for paper products. Forestland Stewards, IP’s conservation partnership with NFWF, is helping to restore and maintain habitat in working forests to benefit bird species like the swallow-tailed kite and other migratory birds. 

One example of how the partnership is helping the swallow-tailed kite is in the South Lowcountry-ACE Basin, where International Paper, NFWF and other funding partners have invested more than $2 million to restore, enhance and protect longleaf pine and bottomland hardwood forest habitats in South Carolina. This landscape is home to large blocks of forest, including many privately owned working forests, which support forest industry jobs and provide habitat for swallow-tailed kites, the northernmost populations of the at-risk gopher tortoise and many other species.

Grant investments are helping partners strengthen collaboration and coordination, provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners to plant longleaf pine and treat longleaf habitat with prescribed fire, and protect working forests and sensitive habitats. These efforts will impact more than 80,000 acres of forest habitat, benefiting the swallow-tailed kite and other migratory birds, and local communities. 

In addition to the Forestland Stewards partnership with NFWF, IP is also partnering with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) to help the swallow-tailed kite. This partnership is developing bird-focused management recommendations for private forest landowners, who own about 90 percent of southern forests. The partnership also conducts field-based workshops with forest landowners and IP suppliers, and species-specific work, including capturing, tagging, and tracking swallow-tailed kites. Watch Kites in the Trees about the partnership’s work.

The swallow-tailed kite is one of North America’s most beautiful birds of prey. These large black-and-white birds have long narrow wings that span four feet, and a distinctive forked elongated tail. Swallow-tailed kites breed in swamps, lowland forests, and marshes of the US Southeast, mainly in South Carolina and Florida. They nest in tall trees and need open ground with small prey to feed their young. After rearing its nestlings in a treetop nest, the swallow-tailed kite migrates to wintering grounds in South America.

World Migratory Bird Day is an important reminder to celebrate progress in conserving habitats for the swallow-tailed kite, while also drawing attention to the serious threats birds still face as they migrate. Bird migration is one of the great natural wonders of the world and about 20 percent of bird species migrate. But every year, these migrating birds face new threats. Birds may arrive at a regular stopover site only to discover it has been transformed into a suburban development. Birds hit powerlines and windows, and millions are hunted illegally. Climate change, perhaps the greatest of all threats to migration, is causing habitats to shift, shrink, or disappear entirely.

Since 1970, North America’s bird population has dropped by almost 30 percent. Watch the ABC video 3 Billion Birds Lost

These are just some of the important reasons IP and the NFWF formed the Forestland Stewards partnership in 2013 to conserve and restore southern forestlands, which comprise some of the United States’ most iconic landscapes. The partnership supports projects to restore native forests, strengthen important fish and wildlife populations, and protect watersheds—while at the same time promoting and supporting working forests in 11 states across the US South.

About the Forestland Stewards Partnership

International Paper’s conservation partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, known as Forestland Stewards, was created to conserve and restore southern forestlands. These forests provide critical habitats for endangered wildlife and economic opportunities for local communities.

Since 2013, International Paper has invested more than $13.4 million in project funding. These investments are leveraging more than $179 million in matching funds from federal, state, and private organizations, for a total conservation investment of more than $192 million. These projects, once fully implemented, will establish, and enhance more than 1.2 million acres of native forest and wildlife habitat, improve more than 770 miles of stream habitat, and engage nearly 26,000 private landowners through outreach and technical assistance to implement forest stewardship practices.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 grantee organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $8.1 billion. Learn more: NFWF.org.

About International Paper
International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a global producer of planet-friendly packaging, pulp and other fiber-based products, and one of North America's largest recyclers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., we employ approximately 39,000 colleagues globally who are committed to creating what's next. We serve customers worldwide, with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, North Africa and Europe. Net sales for 2022 were $21.2 billion. Additional information can be found by visiting www.internationalpaper.com