Over the past three decades, The Conservation Fund has focused on conserving the critical upland and wetland habitats found within the Suwannee River watershed. By utilizing proceeds from The Conservation Fund’s pioneering green bonds, a loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, and a grant from the EJK Foundation we will be able to safeguard thousands of additional acres of riverfront forestland in southeast Georgia from conversion and development, enhance recreational access, support climate and fire resiliency, and enable longleaf pine habitat restoration.


Since our founding, The Conservation Fund has protected over 168,000 acres in Georgia including thousands of acres of working forests and farmlands. In November 2021, we purchased 8,760 acres along a 14-mile stretch of the ecologically sensitive upper Suwannee River in Clinch County, Georgia.

Our purchase and interim ownership of these lands, now referred to as Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, provides time to develop permanent conservation strategies over the next few years that aim to increase public recreational access to the river, ensure sustainable forest management and longleaf pine restoration, and enhance protection for the Suwannee River headwaters and the adjacent Okefenokee NWR.

This project is part of our Working Forest Fund®—an innovative program dedicated to mitigating climate change, strengthening rural economies and protecting natural ecosystems through the permanent conservation of at-risk working forests across America.


Ensuring the permanent conservation and sustainable management of our existing forests is one of the most effective strategies we have right now to combat climate change. Forests not only store carbon, they also absorb more CO2 as the trees grow. Suwannee River Headwaters Forest plays an important role in this fight, storing approximately 2 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, which is comparable to the emissions from over 456,000 passenger vehicles over the course of a year.

Well-managed forests, particularly in upper watersheds, are critical sources of clean water. The Suwannee River plays an important role by providing most of the surficial fresh water to the Gulf of Mexico’s “Big Bend” coast that supports the second largest seagrass area in the region, the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. Located within the Greater Okefenokee ecosystem, one of the country’s most biodiverse ecosystems and the largest protected wildlife corridor east of the Mississippi River, this conservation effort will consolidate Okefenokee NWR lands, help create a fire resilient buffer and conserve a critical linkage in the statewide wildlife corridor.

Sandhill Crane. Photo credit: Stacy Funderburke

Conserving this property will secure significant riparian and upland areas that provide important wildlife habitat for a variety of resident and migratory species, including the gopher tortoise, Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Alabama shad, Gulf sturgeon, Suwannee bass, and Suwannee cooter. The area also provides important habitat for approximately 234 migrant and resident bird species, including a variety of warblers, songbirds and waterbirds like the rusty blackbird, bobolink, sandhill crane, red-headed woodpecker, tricolored heron, and swallow-tailed kite.

A popular paddling destination, The Conservation Fund’s purchase will enable the future creation of two new river access points for entering and exiting along a 14-mile stretch of the Suwannee River.

In addition, conservation of the Suwannee River Headwaters Forest also offers a tremendous opportunity to restore more than 5,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat—one of the most diverse and endangered ecosystems in the world—within the larger Okefenokee NWR landscape. This significant restoration outcome will further the goal set by America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative for restoring 8 million acres by 2025.


The Conservation Fund and its partners are actively raising funds for permanent conservation solutions for this land. For more information about how you can support the conservation of Suwannee River Headwaters Forest please contact Shannon Lee.