Two Georgia-Pacific Facilities Again Achieve Wildlife Habitat Council Certifications

Sep 13, 2023 8:45 AM ET

ATLANTA, September 13, 2023 /3BL/ - Containerboard facilities in Big Island, Virginia, and Monticello, Mississippi, recently earned certifications for an additional two years from The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). WHC’s Conservation Certification® is the only voluntary sustainability program designed for broad-based biodiversity enhancement and conservation education activities on corporate landholdings.

The conservation programs at Big Island and Monticello support both facility’s unique local landscape, including the wildlife that call these areas home. The process for WHC certification is rigorous - participants must submit documentation to earn recertification every two years to ensure efforts are continuous.

Georgia-Pacific's Big Island paper mill in Bedford County, Virginia, has been certified by WHC since 2011. The mill is more than 130 years old, and is in a rural area, making the conservation program Georgia-Pacific designed a natural fit. The facility’s past certifications have included research efforts on the American chestnut tree, and its pollinator gardens throughout the facility. Its current certification focuses on mammalian nutrition in rural Virginia, including a food plot for white tail deer. The mill is on 800 acres, and no hunting is allowed on the grounds, creating a haven for the animals. In addition to its certification, Georgia-Pacific has noted success with its program through increased growth in the number of white tail deer, bear, wild turkey, and bobcats because of the plentiful nutrients available. Recently, bears broke into the American chestnut facility on site; the chestnuts are a major food source for bears. Despite the mischief, the facility also speaks to the success of the American chestnut tree initiative.

“Working for and supporting WHC certification at the Big Island mill gives me the satisfaction of knowing that GP shares my conservation and sustainability goals,” said Dennis Austin, wood & fiber supply area manager at Big Island. “Whether it’s planting trees, providing food and shelter to wildlife, or improving the natural habitat, it's exciting to know that the work we do today will benefit the environment for future generations.”

Several hundred miles away in Monticello, Mississippi, Georgia-Pacific's Monticello pulp and paper mill has also held WHC’s Conservation Certification® for several years and achieved “certified silver” status for the first time since 2016, WHC’s second-highest certification level. The Monticello mill manages 992 acres that are protected from industrial activity, allowing this space to act as a wildlife refuge. There are more than four acres of food plots for deer and other wildlife, and other initiatives include wild turkey and alligator monitoring, wild hog management, nesting initiatives for bluebirds, wood ducks, and bats, as well as pollinator gardens.

“GP partners with local governments, businesses, and the communities in which we work in so many ways. Ongoing contributions to sustainability and conservation efforts along with being a certified WHC member shows that GP Monticello is committed to managing quality habitats for wildlife, conservation education and community outreach initiatives. This is something GP and Monticello can be proud of,” said Jacob Vigh, environmental and transformation manager at Monticello. “Creating these programs and working with the Wildlife Habitat Council to achieve and maintain certification is a lot of hard work and effort, but it is worth it. I would encourage other facilities to see what has been done in various GP facilities and develop programs that support the areas where they live and work."

See how Georgia-Pacific contributes to the sustainability and conservation of forestry and wildlife across North America by visiting Georgia-Pacific Conservation Projects.

Click here to learn more about the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Certification® program.

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