Acres for America, a partnership between Wal-Mart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will permanently conserve at least one acre of priority wildlife habitat for every acre developed by Wal-Mart, as well as the company's future land development over the next ten years. This puts the minimum total acres to be protected at 138,000. Lands conserved will benefit a wide variety of wildlife, including large and small mammals, freshwater and saltwater fish, migratory and neo-tropical birds and native plants.
"Wal-Mart is the first corporation to commit to offsetting its entire developed land use for conservation," said Max Chapman, Jr., foundation chairman. "We introduced the concept of the offset program to Wal-Mart last year," he said. "They were quick to say yes, and Wal-Mart's leadership is raising the bar in conservation."
"As partners, we are conserving wildlife habitat on a large scale to safeguard migratory corridors, breeding grounds and natural areas essential to the long-term health of America's wildlife," said John Berry, Foundation executive director.
The foundation will identify key habitats throughout the country working in partnership with the nation's local, state and national conservation organizations and public land management agencies. As part of the announcement, five leadership grants resulting from Wal-Mart's Acres for America were named.
These projects include:
- Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge
- Louisiana Sherfield Cave and the Headwaters of the Buffalo National River
- Arkansas North Rim of the Grand Canyon
- Arizona Back to Home Waters/Squaw Creek
- Oregon Downeast Lakes Forestry Partnership, Maine
"America loses nearly three million acres of open space each year," said Larry Selzer, president of the Conservation Fund. "It's critical that we act now to protect some of the most important landscapes that we have left, and these areas represent the best of wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Conservation Fund is proud to work with the Foundation and Wal-Mart to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
"We are proud that Wal-Mart is making land conservation history, but quite simply, protecting our environment is simply the right thing to do," said Mike Duke, executive vice president and president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores - USA. "By giving back something now, our kids, our grandkids and others will have a chance to enjoy these national treasures for years to come."
The foundation will consider recommendations for projects that would generate the greatest impact to important fish, wildlife, or plant resources. More information about the program is available online.