NEW YORK -- Westvaco Corp., one of the largest U.S. makers of paperboard, said it agreed to allow the Nature Conservancy to suggest zones protecting rare wildlife in all the company's timberland, which could restrict logging.
The agreement, effective Nov. 1, covers 1.3 million acres in Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The nonprofit environmental group will survey the timberlands for areas that include endangered animals and plants, or even unusual waterfalls and rock formations, and recommend how to preserve them.
The agreement is unusual because New York-based Westvaco is allowing the inspection of all its U.S. logging area, the Nature Conservancy said. The agreement opens the company to more public scrutiny and could result in logging restrictions in protected areas, Westvaco said. "We've found that we can be good business people and good stewards," Westvaco Chief Executive Officer John Luke said at a news conference in Washington.
The company, which operates a mill in Maryland along the Potomac River near Westernport, has had a pilot program for more than a year with the Nature Conservancy on 400,000 acres Westvaco owns in West Virginia. Westvaco said it will consider adding to the program the company's 115,000 acres of forest in Brazil.
The Nature Conservancy said it wants to use the agreement with Westvaco as a model of cooperation between the forest-products industry and the group. Westvaco and the Nature Conservancy have worked on forest projects together for more than 20 years, the company said.
"Whenever possible, we look for cooperative arrangements with large landowners," said John Sawhill, Nature Conservancy president and chief executive officer.
Shares of Westvaco, also one of the world's largest makers of envelopes, rose 75 cents to $28.4375 yesterday.