Tech giant Apple has entered the timberland investment market by investing into a 36,000 acre working forest conservation project with The Conservation Fund, a non-profit organisation that often works with the private sector to protect natural resources in the US.
Apple’s undisclosed investment into the non-profit’s Working Forest Fund will be used to help preserve working forestland in Maine and North Carolina to ensure a steady and sustainable supply of harvested timber to paper and pulp mills, according to a press release. Over 10 percent of working forests in the US are at risk of being lost to development, according to the Conservation Fund.
The forestland will later be sold onto commercial investors that will be required to continue the preservation of the forest and follow environmental principles for cutting and replanting trees. These investors are likely to be a range of family foundations, private investors, government agencies and some institutional investors, according to Robin Murphy, a spokesperson for The Conservation Fund.
“We don’t know who the buyers will be yet because the sale is not going to happen for another five to seven years,” he told Agri Investor. “It, on average, takes about five to seven years to do the planning and restoration and we want to make sure when the sale occurs these forests are ready and in their best health.”
WFF is a rolling fund with capital coming in on a consistent basis. To date, there are 400,000 acres under protection and the fund is targeting over one million acres, according to Murphy.
“Apple is clearly leading by example – one that we hope others will follow,” said Larry Selzer, president and chief executive of The Conservation Fund, in a statement. “By all accounts, the loss of America’s working forests is one of our nation’s greatest environmental challenges. The initiative announced today is precedent-setting.”
There are currently 750 million acres of forests in the US, of which more than 420 million acres are working forests, according to The Conservation Fund.