On June 25, Verso Paper launched its Verso Forest Certification Grant Program, an initiative aimed at increasing fiber and land certified to the Tree Farm or Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards on lands near Verso’s mills in Maine and Michigan. As Fiber Supply Manager Jim Contino notes, “Verso already uses a high percentage of fiber that’s certified to credible forest management certification standards—about 70 percent—but the availability of certified fiber in the United States remains limited, with only about 28 percent of privately owned U.S. land certified.”
In 2009, Verso launched a project to promote sustainable forest management principles and initiatives in Maine, in partnership with TIME Inc. and Hearst Enterprises. That project, which set a goal of enrolling an additional 1 million acres in Maine in credible certification programs, actually enrolled 1.4 million acres in the state by the time it concluded two years later. The new Grant Program, established on similar principles, extends the initiative beyond Maine.