2019 Sustainability Report

arrow blueCommitted to using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs


Understanding and protecting the habitats where we work.

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsGood health and well-beingClean water and sanitationResponsible consumption and production

Why Biodiversity Matters

Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

Explain management approach components

Evaluate management approach

GRI 304:
Greif focuses on biodiversity to help preserve a healthy environment. By taking actions to understand and manage the potential impacts of our operations on ecosystem services and biodiversity, we position ourselves to preserve natural resources. Our land management operations and services are dedicated to conserving the Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem functions to promote wildlife and habitat restoration.


Habitats protected or restored



Acres Under Management

We practice sustainable forestry across our operations in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and offer services to improve land management practices across industries.

Since December 2008, Soterra, LLC, our subsidiary engaged in Land Management, has adhered to the principles of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and followed Best Management Practices defined by each state for its managed timberlands. Soterra forests provide timberland habitat for wildlife, forestry management services and serve as a space for recreational land use. Soterra operates in the Southeastern United States, managing 244,600 acres of timberland in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. In 2019, Soterra forests sequestered over 1,707,000 tons of CO2.

Soterra’s harvesting, and overall forestry practices, are guided by SFI and state-specific Best Management Practices to ensure we adhere to all regulatory requirements and apply the highest standard practices throughout our operations whenever possible. We apply a sustainable harvest methodology, which is based on a 30-year rotation, to our timberlands. Prior to harvesting any site, we conduct a thorough review of the area to assess the overall biodiversity value of the site and identify any protected animal or plant species that may be impacted by the harvest. If any areas within a site are identified as having a high biodiversity value or serve as a habitat to a protected species, appropriate buffer zones are established to ensure that land or species is not impacted and, if necessary, preparation and harvesting methods will be altered accordingly. To-date, no Soterra managed lands have been identified as having high biodiversity value, however since 2008, eight species of concern have been identified within our geographic areas and protected when necessary.

Safety is among our top priorities. Our colleagues and subcontractors operate heavy machinery when harvesting and can drive 40,000-50,000 miles annually assessing and maintaining our land.  We maintain a Safety Team within Soterra that is responsible for building and maintaining a strong safety culture throughout our operations. We are proud to say that we have not had a reportable incident in Soterra’s operations in over eight years. All of our operational policies, including our safety policies, extend to subcontractors that perform work on our behalf. For more information about our safety practices and priorities, please visit Health & Safety.
We work to improve our land management practices through technology whenever possible. In 2007 we began implementing geographic information systems to track our planting, maintenance and harvesting activities. The technology allows us to better understand the geography of our properties, age of the trees on our land, treatments that have been applied and make better harvesting and overall land management decisions. We consider ourselves a pioneer in using drone technology to evaluate the health of our forests. Drones allow us to efficiently scan our acreage and identify potential threats to the health of our forests such as pest outbreaks. We use drones to accurately estimate acres to help efficiently plan resources for chemical application and planting as well as reducing the safety risk for colleagues by eliminating the need to physically traverse difficult terrain to map acres via GPS. To date, our drone pilots have mapped over 56,000 acres of company and private land.

Historically, Soterra’s revenue has primarily been from the harvest and sale of timber from our timberlands. While still a core part of our business, in recent years we have made a conscious shift to invest resources in our consulting and recreational lease services. In addition to diversifying our revenue, expanding these services ensures we will be able to continue harvesting our timber in a sustainable manner and only harvest mature timber.

The growth of our consulting services also allows us to expand our impact beyond our own land. Since 2016, we have regenerated more land and planted more trees on privately owned land than we have on our own acreage – over 18,000 total acres planted on private land. Through our consulting engagements, we work with land owners to implement the same responsible land management practices, and leverage the same technology, that we do for our own managed acreage. We partner with land owner associations, such as the Alabama Forest Owners Association, Forest/Lamar Forest Owners Association, and St. Helena Forestry Association, to host field days where land owners can learn about best practices to implement on their own land. We are also working to diversify through forest byproducts. In 2015, we began collecting and repurposing pine straw – the fallen needles from evergreen trees – as landscape cover that can be used by home gardeners. 

In 2020, we will continue to diversify our services to maintain our ability to run our business with sustainable practices. We will continue to grow our consulting services and identify new byproducts that can be sold without impacting the health of the land. We will improve our land management practices by setting new standards for herbicide and fertilizer application and diversifying the type and quality of seedlings that we plant, providing many benefits to our land including healthier trees, higher harvest yields and more sustainable harvest volume, which will also provide greater carbon capture, in the future. We will place an increased focus on forest density, further ensuring that we protect that land and its biodiversity as we harvest in the future.

Highlight Stories
Highlight Stories

Pollinator Habitat Improvement Study


The year 2013 marked the conclusion of a multi-year pollinator research project that occurred on Greif/Soterra LLC timberlands in south Mississippi.  The study was conducted in conjunction with the Pollinator Partnership and NAPCC—the world's foremost experts on pollination issues—to learn how pollinators impact wildlife food availability on timber landscapes, the added value of hosting honey bees and beekeepers on the landscape and to discover the best management practice for ecosystem services on forest landscapes.

The study produced some interesting recommendations for sustainable timberland management practices that should benefit timberland owners, pollinator species, local wildlife and ecosystems alike. Greif is committed to its sustainable land use platform, and will help distribute any resulting publications to industry partners, regulators and members of the academic community globally to influence positive environmental management in timberland systems.

In 2013, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) recognized Soterra LLC and the Pollinator Partnership with its coveted Conservation Leadership Award for this research. The state of Louisiana also recognized the efforts on the program by declaring a state-wide Pollinator Week in the spring of 2018. As of 2019, Soterra LLC continues its support for education, outreach, conservation and scientific research relating to the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem by maintaining its involvement in the Pollinator Partnership as an active Board of Directors member. To learn more, please see our article in Bee Culture Magazine.