Longleaf Pine

(Pinus palustris)

The longleaf pine forest is a biologically diverse, fire-adapted ecosystem that once dominated 90 million acres across the Southeast. Today, this ecosystem is profoundly less abundant with only about 5 million acres remaining – much of which is in poor condition.

Many native plants and animals, including species of conservation concern, rely on the longleaf forest. Populations of these plants and animals are in jeopardy because of the significant loss of their habitat.                                                                                                                                                

The decline of the longleaf forest occurred over a long period of time and is due to multiple reasons including:

  • The harvest of mature longleaf trees without attention to replanting/cultivating young trees.
  • Tapping longleaf trees for resin to produce ‘naval stores’ (turpentine/tar) resulting in tree mortality.
  • When longleaf was cut, the land was often converted from longleaf forest to agricultural use, was re-planted with another species of pine, or developed.
  • Smokey the Bear’s messaging resulted in the exclusion of all fire across the landscape and was detrimental to the fire-dependent longleaf pine forest.

Public and private conservation groups recognized the need to act to reverse the decline of this iconic forest system. Working together a Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine was drafted in 2009 and the Longleaf Partnership Council was formed in 2011. Cohesive efforts like these enhance the efficiency, leadership, communication and collaboration in landscape- scale restoration efforts.  This group of partners operates as America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI) and has set the ambitious goal of restoring 8 million acres of longleaf by 2025. Working together has resulted in reversing the century-long decline of longleaf pine and produced an increase in longleaf acreage across nine southern states.

The Chattahoochee Fall Line Conservation Partnership (CFLCP) is working locally in west Georgia and east Alabama, where longleaf was historically abundant, to help achieve the range-wide restoration goal.

Private landowner participation in longleaf restoration is critical!  Are you interested in learning more about longleaf pine and understanding if it fits your goals as a forest landowner? If so, there are many resources to assist you.  Please refer to the Landowner Resources section of this website or contact the CFLCP for more information

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