Apple just bought a forest 2.5 times the size of Manhattan.

Photo: Whitney Flanagan, The Conservation Fund

When you’re the richest company in the world you can afford to do crazy things: build a spaceship campus, start secret electric car projects, or buy an entire forest.

Apple announced today that it’s buying up 36,000 acres of private forest land that will be sustainably harvested and used for its packaging.

The land is broken into two tracts in Maine and North Carolina and will be managed by the Conservation Fund. Combined, the two tracts are more that two times the size of Manhattan. The pulp from the trees will go toward Apple’s packaging needs, but other companies will be able to buy fiber from them too.

Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, told Buzzfeed that the company’s move to manage its own pulp supply rather than buy from outside venders is a massive step forward.

“Imagine if every time you opened a package from a company you knew that it came from a working forest. And imagine if companies took seriously their paper chain and made sure that was renewable, just like energy. And imagine if they didn’t just buy renewable paper, but took the step of ensuring that they would stay working forests forever.”

The forests will be managed under a ‘working forest’ model, which keeps an eye toward the long-term well being of the forest. Apple didn’t say how much paper it uses each year for the hundreds millions of iOS devices it sells. Lisa Jackson told Buzzfeed the the paper produced by these two forests is equivalent to nearly half the virgin — that is, nonrecycled — fiber that went into Apple packaging last year.

“Where we want to get, of course, is 100 percent,” said Jackson.

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