Land degradation is a severe, widespread, and growing global challenge. By some estimates over a quarter of land worldwide, almost three billion acres, has become degraded which includes loss of topsoil and soil nutrients, reduction in terrestrial carbon, loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity, impairment of important ecosystem functions, and ability to support agriculture. In a world where the population will grow to 9 billion by 2050 and demand for sustainable food, timber, energy, and recreation is increasing rapidly, hundreds of millions of acres will be needed globally for sustainable production. To this end, we are developing scalable restoration models across the following ecosystems.
This restoration model involves the management of encroaching woody brush on rangelands in New Mexico, Texas, and the broader Southwestern US. The selective removal of woody brush on these historic grasslands increases grazing productivity and reduces catastrophic fire risk while enhancing soils, water resources, and habitat.
Our program brings unwanted brush on private lands under long-term easement for large-scale production of woodchips and wood pellets for renewable energy. With over 700,000 acres under contract, our team in Texas and New Mexico develops brush management strategies together with landowners and conservation entities.
This restoration model involves planting native grass species on fallow, idle, and underutilized lands in the Gulf Coast region to improve landscapes by increasing soil carbon, improving water quality, and enhancing habitat and soil health.
Our focus is the historic coastal prairie range along the Gulf of Mexico. This ecoregion encompasses 6.5 million acres in Texas and 2.5 million acres in Southwest Louisiana. Over the last two hundred years this ecosystem was largely converted to agriculture, including sugarcane, rice and cattle grazing, with less than one percent of native coastal prairie remaining. Erosion, salination, nutrient depletion, and brush invasion have further degraded these lands.
Pine beetle and similar infestations have devastated over 60 million acres of forests across Western U.S. and Canada. In addition, fire suppression has allowed forests to become overstocked with unbroken stands of old and dead trees, further fueling the risk of catastrophic wildfire, infestation, and habitat loss.
We work with the U.S. Forest Service and other conservation organizations to restore these forests by creating a market for diseased trees, forest residues, and other low-grade timber resources. At our Deadwood pellet plant, we create wood pellets from such fiber in the Black Hills National Forest. We are looking to expand this business model in other regions of the Western U.S.