Enviva Plants Longleaf As Part Of NC Forest Restoration Project

Enviva has partnered with the Sandhills Prescribed Burn Assn. and Milliken Advisors to sustainably thin the loblolly pine on over 500 acres of Hoke Community Forest in preparation for the establishment of a longleaf pine savannah in North Carolina. On Saturday, December 3, 2022, more than 15 organizations and 100 community residents gathered to plant the first longleaf pine seedlings as the project officially enters its second phase of restoration.

The large parcel of land, known as “Hoke Community Forest,” is one of a few community forests in the U.S. Southeast. This unique piece of land is dedicated to and managed for conservation, environmental education, and economic welfare. Hoke Community Forest is owned by Hoke County and is managed for the financial benefit and recreational use of the citizens of Hoke County, North Carolina. The community forest is situated in a county with a large minority population and has previously been in economic distress due to manufacturing job losses and agricultural downturns, leaving the county to primarily survive on property taxes alone. To generate future revenue for the project, additional timber harvests will take place and will be done sustainably following the longleaf pine restoration plan developed by Milliken Advisors. The income garnered from logging and tourism makes Hoke Community Forest a valuable economic asset to the residents and officials of Hoke County.

“This type of partnership between federal and state agencies, NGOs and private industry, holds great promise to create intergenerational wealth for the rural families who own the vast majority of the longleaf forest,” says Jesse Wimberley, coordinator of the Sandhills Prescribed Burn Assn. “Sustainable forestry can also strengthen rural economies that have been adversely affected by the loss of traditional agriculture and industry in the U.S. Southeast.”

Donald Grant, Manager of Sustainability Standards at Enviva, adds, “Healthy, growing forests are integral to the livelihood of Southern families and landscapes as it provides additional income for the local economy. At Enviva, we are proud to play a role in supporting both.”

Phase one of the restoration project commenced when the Sandhills Prescribed Burn Assn. engaged with Enviva initially. The Hoke Community Forest Restoration Project serves as an archetype of the type of restoration projects Enviva engages with and supports, as is Enviva’s five-year partnership with The Longleaf Alliance which assists with the implementation of Enviva’s longleaf forest restoration plan and serves as a critical step in the longleaf restoration process across North Carolina. One of the main conservation goals of Hoke Community Forest is to conserve the rare Sandhill ecosystem which is home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and longleaf pine forests.

Once officially onboard, Enviva engaged with Milliken Advisors Inc., a full-service land management company, to develop a harvesting plan, manage the timber sale, and oversee the harvesting activities on behalf of Hoke Community Forest. Over time the loblolly pine overstory will be removed leaving a longleaf pine savannah in its place for generations to come.

Now in phase two of the project, The Sandhills Prescribed Burn Assn., Enviva, Milliken Advisors, and the Longleaf Alliance, along with other partners and the community will continue to assist in the development of the community forest by providing a mechanism to acquire, manage, and distribute funds, as well as oversee the silvicultural and forest management practices are appropriately carried out by all partners.

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