Verso Paper Founding Sponsor of Family Forests Alliance


Support to enhance certification of family forestlands


Minneapolis, Minn. February 15, 2007. - Forest certification continues to grow in the United States with nearly 150 million acres now certified. However, most of the certified land in the country is in large public and private ownerships. Only about 4 million of the 250 million acres of family forestland in the U.S. are enrolled in a certification program.


“Private forests account for nearly 60% of America's forestland,” says Craig Liska, Vice President of Sustainability at Verso Paper. “As a company that depends upon the health of these forests, we are committed to supporting efforts that encourage certification and responsible forestry on America's family forests.”


To show their commitment, Verso Paper has recently become a founding sponsor for the FSC Family Forests Alliance. The Alliance is a new national collaboration to support responsible forestry on private lands.


“The FSC Family Forests Alliance has been created to provide a national mechanism for bringing together individuals and organizations committed to promoting responsible forest stewardship through FSC standards,” says Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director of Dovetail Partners and Secretariat for the Alliance.


Since the early 1990's, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification has been a leading method of demonstrating, recognizing and rewarding responsible forest management. There are 22 million acres of FSC-certified forestlands in the United States and more than 200 million acres certified around the world.


The Alliance is a collaborative effort between organizations around the country that work regionally to support family forest certification. Partners in the Alliance include the Blue Ridge Forest Cooperative, Christiansburg, VA; Community Forestry Resource Center, Minneapolis, MN; Dovetail Partners,Minneapolis, MN; Massachusetts Woodlands Cooperative, South Deerfield, MA; Northwest Natural Resource Group, Port Townsend, WA; Southern Forests Network, Asheville, NC; and the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands, Hebron, ME.


“We have all been working to address family forest issues in our respective corners of the country,” says John Gunn, Director of Forest Stewardship and Research for the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands and Alliance partner. “The time is right to bring our experiences together to effect change.”


As a founding sponsor, Verso Paper is helping support the Alliance's 2007 Action Plan. “The Alliance is moving forward with providing input to the FSC standards review process, developing communication mechanisms for our national partners, and planning a national formative meeting to identify specific opportunities to make significant change,” says Fernholz. “We have an aggressive work agenda, and the support of partners like Verso Paper, who understand that the time to act is now, will keep us on task.”