The Natural Resources Conservation Service has unveiled an effort to increase the abundance and improve the health of longleaf pine forests in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The two-year strategy aims to help private landowners restore and protect 400,000 acres of longleaf pine forests.
“Together, with the help of private landowners and conservation partners, we’ve made significant progress in reversing the decline of longleaf pine forests since 2010,” said NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan. “But we still have much more work to do, and this strategy serves as a roadmap for our work with landowners to keep accelerating the restoration of this critical ecosystem.”
Longleaf pine forests once encompassed more than 90 million acres across the Southeast, but over the past two centuries, development, timbering and fire suppression have reduced the forested area by almost 97%. Because of the work of public-private partnerships, the amount of longleaf pine forests has grown from 3 million acres to nearly 5 million acres, reversing a century-long decline across the region.