USA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and The Coca-Cola Company have officially renewed their 10-year partnership, signing a memorandum of understanding in a significant move for environmental conservation.
The partnership’s primary goal is to restore and improve watersheds on national forests and grasslands across the United States.
Since its inception in 2013, this collaborative effort has yielded impressive results, contributing to the restoration of nearly 900 acres of watersheds and replenishing over 634 million gallons of water in national forests and grasslands.
Spearheaded by the National Forest Foundation, the partnership has overseen 25 projects in nine states.
These initiatives have successfully restored over 14 miles of streams, reconnected 17 miles of rivers, revitalized 62 acres of lakes, treated more than 450 acres of invasive weeds, and achieved much more in terms of ecological restoration.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Xochitl Torres Small, emphasized the pressing threats facing national forests and grasslands, including wildfires, invasive species, pests, and prolonged droughts exacerbated by climate change.
He highlighted the necessity for long-term, creative, and collaborative management to address these challenges and expressed confidence that the renewed agreement would build upon a decade of successful cooperation.
One crucial aspect of this partnership is its impact on the drinking water supply of more than 60 million Americans, sourced from national forests and grasslands.
The need for healthy and resilient forests to provide a reliable drinking water source underscores the importance of partnerships involving the USDA, the National Forest Foundation, and The Coca-Cola Company.
Jennifer Mann, President of Coca-Cola North America, emphasized the company’s commitment to water stewardship and its goal to return 2 trillion liters of water to nature and communities globally between 2021 and 2030.
The renewed partnership will prioritize historically underserved communities and align with efforts to protect local water resources and enhance community climate resilience.
Marcus Selig, Chief Conservation Officer of the National Forest Foundation, praised the innovative collaboration and The Coca-Cola Company’s support, noting the achievements on the ground and the potential for even greater success in the future.
The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation have contributed over US$2.6 million to this partnership, with nearly US$900,000 of funding earmarked for 2023 projects in states such as Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, aimed at restoring stream and wetland health.
When combined with partner and USDA funding, the total investment in this initiative to date exceeds US$5 million.