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The Coca-Cola Foundation, Silk, Google, Meta, and Microsoft to Restore Longleaf Pine Forest in East Texas

The Coca-Cola Foundation, Silk, Google, Meta, and Microsoft to Restore Longleaf Pine Forest in East Texas

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$970K+ investment will restore 2,000 acres of longleaf pine forest, providing water benefits

The Coca-Cola Foundation, Silk (a Danone North America brand), Google, Meta, and Microsoft are coming together to collaboratively invest $972,000 to restore 2,000 acres of longleaf pine forest on private lands in Trinity County, Texas. Coordinated by the Texas Longleaf Team, with support from Texan by Nature, the restoration will entail managing and removing invasive plants, conducting prescribed fire, and planting approximately 100,000 Longleaf Pine seedlings over the course of five to ten years to create a healthy Longleaf Pine ecosystem that will filter and store freshwater, sequester carbon, support biodiversity, and benefit the community.

“At Meta, we are committed to creating a positive impact in the communities where we operate. This project will play an important role in water conservation and improving water quality in the Trinity River watershed,” said Stefanie Woodward, Water Stewardship Lead at Meta. “We are proud to continue our partnership with Texan by Nature as part of our goal to be Water Positive in 2030, aligning our efforts to bolster this restoration initiative to enrich the region for decades to come.”

“As we work to make progress against our commitment to replenish more than we consume by 2030, we are looking to collaborate with local stakeholders on impactful projects that align with local needs,” said Eliza Roberts, Water Lead, Microsoft. “The Texas Longleaf team is leading critical work to restore this Longleaf Pine forest in Trinity County, which will provide clean air, water and economic benefits to communities in Texas.”

This investment is a result of project matching through the Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC) and collaboration with Bonneville Environmental Foundation, through their Business for Water Stewardship program. Led by Texan by Nature, TxWAC is a coalition of industry, nonprofit, and governmental organizations established in 2021 to increase investments in efforts that yield positive returns for Texas’ water resources.

See related article: Coca-Cola Releases Key Goals Detailing 2030 Water Security Strategy

“The Texas Longleaf Team is honored to serve as a conduit for these companies as they seek to achieve their sustainability goals in Southeast Texas,” says Jenny Sanders, Coordinator at Texas Longleaf Team. “The Longleaf ecosystem is one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically important systems on earth and its benefits – from water to carbon, biodiversity, community, culture, and more – will leave a legacy for the companies who invest in its restoration long into the future.”

Range-wide, Longleaf Pine once spanned from Virginia to Florida, and westward into East Texas, with the range covering nearly 90 million acres at the time of European colonization. Only 3 million acres remain standing today, with approximately 60,000 acres remaining in Texas. The Texas Longleaf Team was organized in 2010 to promote the restoration of this historic Longleaf Pine ecosystem on private and public forestlands in Southeast Texas.

The value of ecosystem forest restoration projects, much like the roots of the longleaf pine, extends beyond just a tree in the ground. When businesses and charitable organizations invest in local conservation projects, the returns are reaped by both people and the planet in the form of ecosystem services, jobs created, costs avoided, education received, and more.

“Investments in local conservation have global impact and should play a critical role in corporate ESG strategy and corporate philanthropy,” says Joni Carswell, CEO at Texan by Nature. “This type of project and investment practice is scalable and beneficial to our natural resources, health, and economy for years to come.”

Longleaf pine is exceptionally beneficial for our water resources as it provides both an open canopy and diverse understory ecosystem that work in parallel to recycle and filter water that passes through it. Researchers believe that longleaf pine filters and captures water more efficiently than other southern pine species due to its maintained native grass savannah. Through this project environmental monitoring data will be collected to bolster existing research.

The primary benefit driving this investment is water. Through restoration of the 2,000 acres, increased water filtration is projected to provide over 200 million gallons per year for 8-12 years. Investing companies may choose to claim this benefit in support of their water goals and strategies.

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