Packaging Leader DS Smith, University of Georgia Team up to Support Local Wildlife, Promote Biodiversity

DS Smith, a leading paper and packaging producer, and the University of Georgia are coming to the rescue of Rafinesque’s Big-eared bats, southeastern gopher tortoises and other critical animal species that call southeast Georgia home.

They are among hundreds of rare, threatened or endangered species that UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources identified in 15 counties across Georgia where DS Smith operates, the first step in a project designed to protect habitats and promote biodiversity.

DS Smith, based in Atlanta, said the collaborative corporate-academic partnership reflects the company’s continuing support of sustainable business practices and circular packaging solutions that eliminates waste, re-uses valuable resources and protects the environment.

As part of DS Smith’s efforts to increase biodiversity on its properties by 2025, next steps in the project call for classification of conservation status and habitat improvements or rebuilding for species in need. Working under faculty supervision, groups of students will continue to conduct surveys to help identify “the habitat that should be managed in order to continue having these species potentially found within the properties.”

The project set out to identify species in the four vertebrate groups of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles that were expected to occur in the counties of Appling, Bacon, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Effingham, Emmanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Tattnall, Toombs and Wayne.

In these counties, where dominant habitat types include ponds, swamps, wetlands, pine and hardwood forest, the team of UGA students identified:

  • 62 mammal species, including three classified as threatened or endangered.
  • 262 bird species, including 17 classified as threatened, endangered or rare.
  • 54 amphibian species, including eight classified as threatened or rare, with only three of those that could possibly be found on this DS Smith property.
  • 62 reptile species, including 17 classified as endangered, with only five of those that could possibly be found on this DS Smith property.

To conduct thorough identifications, a variety of resources were used, such as the iNaturalist app, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History material, the Backyard Bird website and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Conservation online system. The Georgia Biodiversity Portal also was instrumental in the development of recordkeeping for the species and their habitats.

About DS Smith

DS Smith is a leading provider of sustainable fiber-based packaging worldwide, which is supported by recycling and papermaking operations. It plays a central role in the value chain across sectors including e-commerce, fast moving consumer goods and industrials. Through its purpose of ‘Redefining Packaging for a Changing World’ and its Now and Next sustainability strategy, is delivering more circular solutions by replacing problem plastics, taking carbon out of supply chains and providing innovative recycling solutions.  For more information, visit https://www.dssmith.com

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