Tim Sweeney has really been putting that Fortnite money to good use. Thanks to the renewed spotlight his massive hit creation has cast on him, gamers are discovering that he's quite the conservationist. That's actually putting it lightly. In the past ten years, Sweeney had spent millions of dollars to help preserve the forests of North Carolina.
Sweeny's history with the video game industry goes back to the '90s, where he was a founding member of Epic Games. The various hits of that company, games like Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, and of course Fortnite, have earned Sweeney billions. He decided to put a good amount of that money into preservation efforts within his home state of North Carolina, particularly into the undeveloped forests and mountains.
“It’s one of the most diverse areas in North Carolina," he said of an area in the Box Creek Wilderness. "It has such rare plant and wildlife species, it seemed a perfect fit with the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is a 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."
To protect the area, he personally purchased 7,000 acres of the land. He did so because a company was attempting to tear up the untouched land and run power lines through it. Sweeney then donated a conservation easement to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which means that it can't be touched by construction. The effort was estimated to save around 130 endangered plant and animal species according to The Mind Unleashed.
He's been making similar purchases since 2008, and it's reported that he's bought almost 40,000 acres for preservation purposes. He hasn't just done that either. He's also donated to outside conservation projects, such as a 1,500 acre expansion to Mount Mitchell State Park.
The report from The Mind Unleashed praises Sweeney's efforts, citing a study led by North Carolina State University professor Nick Haddad that warned there are only two "truly intact forests left on Earth." What this means, the study found, is that humans' effects on forests fragments animal habitats, displacing the various species that call them home. This can reduce the species diversity by up to 75 percent, as smaller patches of forest tend to benefit predator populations.
Sweeney's goal, then, is to keep these forests untouched so that these diminishing species can live on. Because let's face it, being the last one standing is a lot less awesome in reality than it is in Fortnite.