Using technology to map a better future

Last revised: February 18, 2023

Did you know there are close to 7,000 active satellites orbiting the Earth right at this moment? Considering half a century ago that number was zero, that’s an explosion in activity! In the early days of space exploration, only governments had the resources and expertise to put a satellite into orbit, but since the year 2020, when there were only 2,000 in the sky, the expansion of private satellite launches has dramatically increased. But what are all of these satellites used for? Many of them are for communications, bouncing signals back to the ground to give us the fast connection speeds we are used to in today’s rapid economy. Close to 1,000 of them take pictures of Earth, for the purpose of mapping our environment from the sky. NASA, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation all use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with the assistance of satellites, in order to map habitats for conservation.

GIS technology is also important for healthy forest management. Sustainable forestry requires cooperation between landowners, forestry management organizations, and buyers like IP. Our proprietary ForSite™ mapping application fits in the palm of your hand and uses a combination of GPS and GIS to assess a tract for ecological attributes such as rare or endangered species, priority forest types, or areas of significant biodiversity or landscape connectivity. Using ForSite™ technology, we have identified more than 23 million acres where we can apply due diligence prior to harvest. 

Since 2020, we have made improvements to over 25,000 acres of forestland. For example, our South Carolina fiber purchasing team worked with IP's fiber suppliers to create wildlife corridors — five-mile lengths of unharvested forest that connect larger forest areas together — to maintain the ecosystems that are home to white-tailed deer, wild turkey and numerous species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. Our fiber team in Rome, Georgia improved a planned harvest area to include non-harvest buffers for the protection of granite outcrops, where rare plant species are known to thrive. Since the inception of ForSite™, we have also declined to purchase fiber where we felt the sourcing risk was either too high or could not be properly mitigated.

With eyes in the sky and feet on the ground, we can work towards improving our planet, protecting our forests, and ensuring access to clean water for people and wildlife.

Learn more about how ForSite™ guides our commitment to health and abundant forests in our latest sustainability report.