J.D. Irving wins conservation award for 68 forest research projects

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
September 29, 2017
By Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
Sept. 29, 2017 - The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) announced Thursday that J.D. Irving (JDI) is the 2017 winner of the SFI Leadership in Conservation Award. This award, announced at the SFI Annual Conference, recognizes SFI Program Participants across Canada and the U.S. who are involved in strong partnerships focused on conservation.

In 2016, SFI Program Participants reported on 420 different audited research projects with more than 500 unique partner organizations. JDI collaborated in 68 forest research projects, the highest number of any SFI Program Participant.

Project highlights include JDI's award-winning Unique Areas Program, which has grown from 29 sites in the 1980s to more than 1,300 today. The program focuses on protecting unique elements in working forests. The sites are found and mapped by over 100 forestry professionals working in Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The program has four broad objectives: preserving rare and uncommon species and landscape features; monitoring important indicator species; establishing a database of species and natural features; and engaging the public and stakeholders.

JDI has provided instrumental leadership as a founder of the Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow (CAST). CAST is a partnership of scientists, environmental groups and industry participants focused on saving wild Atlantic salmon. Today 11 scientists are at work on four projects using the best technology to count, save and grow wild Atlantic salmon populations.

JDI is supporting a large study of white-tailed deer through collaboration with six scientists as well as partners in government across New Brunswick and Maine. The deer research is using GPS tracking and extremely accurate forest inventory mapping to look at how deer are using different forest types during summer and winter months. This long-term study will monitor 140 deer and the habitats they choose over the next four years.

J.D. Irving, Limited has also partnered with Natural Resources Canada, Carleton University, and Environment and Climate Change Canada on a five-year songbird habitat research project on JDI land in Northern New Brunswick.

Researchers are collecting songbird data with auto-acoustic recording devices. During the breeding season in May and June of 2016, 323 sites were monitored across 17 different forest types. The recordings are being analyzed to determine the variety of songbirds present at specific GPS locations. Researchers also have access to JDI's enhanced, high resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping of the entire forest study area to build habitat models individual species that can be projected across the entire forest. Over 500 hours of expert listening to the recordings is being conducted with first‑year results to be completed in early 2017. Monitoring and analysis of breeding data will continue for several years and form the basis for ongoing monitoring, especially in light of climate change.

"We appreciate this recognition by SFI," said Jim Irving, co-CEO of J.D. Irving, Limited. "This award is a real tribute to our woodlands team, and the many partners with whom we are proud to work with on research and conservation initiatives. These voluntary investments in science and conservation are a cornerstone of our sustainability commitment and have been part of the way we do business for over 30 years."

The SFI community is committed to supporting forest research. SFI requires participants to support research to improve forest health, conservation understanding, productivity and sustainable management of forest resources.

"J.D. Irving stands out as a research leader that engages universities and conservation partners year after year. As Canada marks its 150th anniversary we are pleased to recognize J.D. Irving, Limited, whose roots in forestry go back 135 years," said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI Inc.

JDI invests $1.5 million annually in forest research. This investment continues to guide best practices on the ground. On average, 12 graduate students and assistants are engaged in research every year on lands owned or managed by JDI. Much of this research is conducted in collaboration with universities, and it seeks to build knowledge that JDI and other forest managers can integrate into adaptive forest management plans that account for species at risk, water quality, wildlife and climate change.

JDI also supports projects funded in part by SFI Conservation Grants. A research partnership with Bird Studies Canada received SFI grant funding to facilitate the monitoring of endangered and threatened bird species, including the piping plover and Bicknell's thrush, on JDI and adjacent government lands. Another project received SFI grant funding to help FPInnovations work with JDI on continuous improvement of harvesting techniques. FPInnovations is a non-profit forest research institute with partners across Canada.

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