Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), a global leader in naturally good food and beverage ingredients, USDA Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation, and Knorr, a Unilever brand, have partnered on a series of restoration projects within the Pine Flats watershed focusing on improving the health and resilience of forested watershed to improve conservation of water resources and reduce the potential impact of severe wildfire. The watershed also plays a key role in supplying water to San Joaquin Valley’s communities and farms – California’s top producing agricultural region.

These initiatives directly address known problems with conifer encroachment on historically open meadows and will also use a series of controlled burns to help maintain ideal vegetation conditions for adequate water drainage and CO2 absorption. Combined, the two flagship programmes are expected to replenish over 660 million gallons of water and lead to a reduction of over 80,000 metric tonnes of CO2 in California’s Central Valley, delivering positive impact to regional growers and communities in the process.

Located less than 100 miles from OFI’s West Coast offices in Fresno, California and many of its key US processing facilities, the Sierra National Forest and surrounding watersheds provide roughly 50% of the water to Californians, including that used by ofi’s local onion, garlic, and parsley growers.

Greg Estep, managing director and CEO, spices at OFI, said, “OFI’s purpose is to be the change for good food and a healthy future, and these latest initiatives support our wider vision to give more back to our environments than is taken out through ingredient production. Not only is this the right thing to do but it’s also increasingly what people expect from their food and beverage manufacturers.”

“We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with the USDA Forest Service, National Forest Foundation and Unilever to build more resilient natural ecosystems and support our local growing communities. We believe these programmes will make a real impact on water supplies in one of our country’s most important agricultural regions, and help our farmers cultivate even more produce along the way,” added Estep.

Dean Gould, forest supervisor for the Sierra National Forest, said, “The Sierra National Forest’s proximity to California’s San Joaquin Valley provides a tremendous geographic advantage for this partnership – this work will help sustain and protect a vital watershed that thousands of people, households, and businesses rely on daily.”

“The exacerbated impacts of climate change on the Pine Flats watershed have become clear over the past few years with larger and hotter wildfires leading to sedimentation increases in rivers, creeks and streams. The local communities that depend on healthy forests for clean water, recreation and forest products have found this critical economic resource in peril.” said Mary Mitsos, president and CEO of the National Forest Foundation. “We are thrilled to be partnering with ofi and the USFS to restore, protect and maintain these public lands for today’s and future generations,” concluded Gould