Trees and trains add up to sustainable business
In 2015, Norfolk Southern completed a five-year community partnership to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta, the flagship project of the company’s Trees and Trains initiative to mitigate carbon emissions the natural way. NS partnered with GreenTrees, the nation’s leading reforestation program, committing $5.6 million to plant more than 6 million trees.
Income for landowners: The Trees and Trains project is generating income for about 50 landowners who agreed to plant cottonwoods and native hardwoods on former woodlands that were converted years ago to farm fields but became marginally productive and prone to flooding. Over 15 years, the trees planted through Trees and Trains will generate more than 1.1 million metric tons of carbon credits that NS agreed to purchase through the partnership. NS can hold the credits to offset its business-related carbon emissions or sell them to recoup its investment. Participating landowners receive payments through NS’ initial investment in the project.
Corporate opportunity: The project, which supports a region long served by NS, is an innovative way to invest in conservation, resulting in positive environmental, economic, and social impacts for the railroad and its stakeholders.
Want to know more? For more information about the Brosnan Forest wetlands bank, visit NS’ corporate website.
“The fact that Norfolk Southern said, ‘We’re in,’ created a floor of certainty for landowners to make that land conversion,” said Chandler Van Voorhis, GreenTrees co-founder and managing partner. “It told them, ‘This is a big corporation saying, ‘You grow it, I’ll buy it.’ Having NS as a buyer and an investor brought a comfort level that has enabled us to scale up and bring in other landowners outside of NS’ particular territory. That’s a part of the story that Norfolk Southern owns.
“More corporations are following Norfolk Southern’s lead and investing in forestry initiatives as part of their sustainability efforts to offset carbon emissions and other environmental impacts,” Van Voorhis said.
“It’s not just carbon,” he said. “It’s biodiversity, it’s water, it’s impact in a community where the investment has been made.”