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Leading packaging and paper manufacturer International Paper Company (IP - Analyst Report) recently announced plans to donate its Lake Erling property in southwest Arkansas to the American Gamebird Research Education and Development (AGRED) Foundation as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The AGRED Foundation will continue the legacy of International Paper to preserve and improve the 7,000-acre property, which includes the lakebed, a controlling dam and a small park that provides public access to the lake. The Foundation will protect wildlife and will maintain the man-made lake for public recreational use.

According to the terms of ownership, the AGRED Foundation will continue to obey the agreement of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that operates and controls the water flow and the Lake Erling dam, and agreement of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission that manage the fish and wildlife at the property. International Paper anticipates that the Foundation will be able to maintain an optimal balance between recreation and conservation to preserve the property for future generations.

International Paper has undertaken various sustainability initiatives to protect the biodiversity of forests and surrounding areas. Over the past decade, the company has protected about 1.5 million acres of U.S. forestland through donations, land sales and conservation easements to state and federal agencies and environmental groups.

International Paper has also donated the International Paper John Dillon Park, a 15,800-acre conservation easement, to the state of New York. This property is a perfect blend of recreation, conservation and education within working forests and is the first wilderness area with facilities specially designed to accommodate people with disabilities.

Headquartered in Memphis, TN, International Paper has manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. The company employs approximately 70,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide.

International Paper is currently working toward transforming and improving the profitability of its distribution business, xpedx. Improvements are expected in procurement, replenishment orders, reduced stock keeping Units (SKU), and supply chain (including fewer/larger warehouses). The company is also mulling to integrate the entire platform into a single operating system. All these initiatives are expected to double profits. Started in 2011, the company is at the initial stages of this multi-year program. We believe that these initiatives will boost results and be accretive to earnings going forward.

International Paper presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other players in the market worth mentioning include Orchids Paper Products (TIS - Snapshot Report), Rexam plc (REXMY) and Stora Enso Oyj (SEOAY), each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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