The name “Disney” adds a splash of entertainment color to the government’s forest restoration efforts, but the company also is contributing to the ecology of Louisiana in a significant way.
Disney is helping pay for a reforestation project in the lower Mississippi River that will help plant trees on 2,000 acres in the next two years.
The program is using the private funding from Disney, along with U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation money, to help volunteer landowners plant trees on their property. That money will help pay for about 1,500 acres of the reforestation work. Additional funding is being collected to meet the 2,000-acre goal.
The company’s contributions allow it to meet its corporate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon credits are available for the work and assigned to the company.
About 600 acres have been enrolled in the voluntary program, which pays landowners in exchange for long-term easements to preserve the replanted forestlands.
This is part of a longer-term commitment by not only companies and landowners but the state and federal governments to reforest lands that were cut — in many cases, decades ago. The state and federal governments, as well as the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, have worked to preserve the Mississippi River delta bottomlands.
Landowners sign up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s conservation program and have the option of a Nature Conservancy easement. The Nature Conservancy offers $500 more per acre as an incentive, which helps the landowner with more money and also is a benefit to the federal government by freeing up additional money for other conservation projects. In addition, The Nature Conservancy pays for all of the restoration costs outside of any hydrology work the landowner might need to do.
The permanent easement from The Nature Conservancy allows the landowners to continue to make money off their land from logging if they have a forestry management plan approved by the conservancy. In addition, hunting, fishing and leasing the land for outdoor activity is allowed, he said.
The goal is to take large areas of marginal farmland that was likely cleared of forest at some point in the past.
That is a tremendous habitat for animals of all kinds and, as the Disney carbon credits illustrate, a way to contribute to long-term sustainability of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Nature Conservancy has been a vital force in Louisiana for decades now, from the coastal regions up the rivers to the northern parishes. Its contributions continue and should be applauded.