Tim Sweeney, Fortnite's Creator, Is Buying Thousands Of Acres Of Forest To Prevent It From Being Cut Down

Tim Sweeney, Fortnite's Creator, Is Buying Thousands Of Acres Of Forest To Prevent It From Being Cut Down

Tim Sweeney, the creator of the online video game Fortnite, has been captivating audiences for decades by developing complex and interactive digital worlds for players. Nevertheless, it's his work away from the screen which is grabbing attention from gamers and non-gamers alike.

Sweeney is best known for founding the video and 3-D software company Epic Games in the 1990s. Epic Games has given us famous video game titles like Unreal Tournament, Gears of War and, most recently, the massively popular game Fortnite. In addition to those popular gaming titles, the billionaire philanthropist has made good on his promise to protect undeveloped and bio-diverse land in the picturesque western Carolina mountains for future generations.

Since 2008, Sweeney has spent millions on conservation projects in his home state of North Carolina to protect and preserve its forest land. He's purchased approximately 40,000 acres over the last decade, making him one of the largest private landowners in the state. Sweeney has donated money to several conservation parcel projects too, such as a 1,500-acre expansion to Mount Mitchell State Park.

In November 2016, Sweeney donated $15 million for a conservation easement to protect 7,000 acres of The Box Creek Wilderness. The forest, situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, had been targeted by a company which wanted to carve up the land and run power lines through it.

By purchasing the land, Sweeney helped protect hundreds of endangered plant and animal species. After the purchase Sweeney remarked:

“It’s one of the most diverse areas in North Carolina. It has such rare plant and wildlife species, it seemed a perfect fit with the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is the first step – there will be other places protected. The goal is to connect South Mountains State Park to Chimney Rock. This is one piece of the puzzle.”

A year later Sweeney purchased 193 acres in Alamance County for $1.973 million from Sizemore Brothers LLC. Following that purchase, Sweeney’s representative Joe Kelleher confirmed the purchase and guaranteed that the land would remain undeveloped.

In 2018, the video game mogul purchased a 1,500-acre parcel of land known as Stone Hills that was being considered for development as a golf resort community. A local newspaper noted that the land would have featured two championship golf courses, a resort hotel, and spa, a community of 1,050 houses and up to 90,000 square feet of retail, dining and office space. Following the purchase, Sweeney said that he intended to preserve the land for its natural beauty.

“I bought this land because it has a nice longleaf pine forest and was available for a reasonable price. I’ll be holding it until I find a permanent nature conservation home for it, which will take years or decades.” When asked what he intends to do with the land in the short term Sweeney replied, “I just plan to hike it and do some tree thinning and burning for ecosystem restoration until I find a permanent conservancy or state home for it.”

Sweeney’s conservation efforts come at a time when protecting our nation’s forests has become increasingly important. According to The Mind Unleashed, a study led by North Carolina State University professor Nick Haddad and conducted by 24 scientists, discovered there are only two truly intact forests left on Earth. When the study’s authors examined the effects of human involvement on forests, they discovered habitat fragmentation leads to 13% to 75% decrease in plant and animal diversity, reduces the ability of animals and plants to survive and can distort the food chain, as smaller patches of forest tend to have a rise in predator population.

Fortunately, as science continues to learn more about the importance of undeveloped forest land, billionaire philanthropists are noticing and taking action. China’s wealthiest person has also taken note of the importance of conservation. In 2015, Jack Ma, the billionaire behind online retail giant Alibaba, purchased 28,000 acres of land in the Adirondack mountains of upstate NY. His first action taken after buying the land was to halt logging operations.

Reference: The Mind Unleashed

Image credit: Inverse

Tim Sweeney, Fortnite's Creator, Is Buying Thousands Of Acres Of Forest To Prevent It From Being Cut Down Tim Sweeney, Fortnite's Creator, Is Buying Thousands Of Acres Of Forest To Prevent It From Being Cut Down Reviewed by Katerina Papakyriakopoulou on 9:17 AM Rating: 5

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