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American Forests Conservation Spotlight: Longleaf Pine Project in Florida
Posted on March 21, 2016

While supporting many recreational activities, Ichetucknee Springs hosts a variety of wildlife, particularly fish and reptiles. Photo: Erica Laspada

Each month we will be featuring one 2016  reforestation project supported by our longstanding partnership with American Forests. Last month we checking in on a fire damaged area of the San Bernardino Mountains a few months after actor and activist Ryan Reynolds planted the organization’s 50 millionth tree as our philanthropic ambassador for the effort. Today we head south and east to Florida, where a replanting effort of the Longleaf Pine is designed to help stem the encroaching ecological impact of climate change.

—LYA Editor

Longleaf pine is considered a keystone species as it supports habitat for a variety of wildlife. Credit: Dani Tinker

Silver Springs and Ichetucknee Springs Longleaf Pine Project


Words courtesy of American Forests

American Forests is working with local partners to plant 28,000 longleaf pine in Florida across 70 total acres at Silver Springs and Ichetucknee Springs State Parks, helping restore the species in portions of its native range. Longleaf pine, a keystone species, supports habitat for a variety of wildlife, including gopher tortoise, black bear, pine snake and fox squirrel.

The longleaf pine ecosystem once covered an estimated 90 million acres of the southeastern U.S. Today, just 2 million acres of longleaf remain — less than three percent of the historic range. Nearly 600 species are associated with longleaf pine ecosystems, half of which are considered rare, more than 100 are at-risk and 30 are threatened or endangered. This project is working to restore native longleaf pine to this coastal conservation property that is home to gopher tortoise, Bachmann’s sparrow and numerous rare shore bird species.


Longleaf forests can grow in sandy, dry and infertile soil or steep, mountainous slopes, and provide erosion control. They are more resistant to diseases, insects, fires and storms than other southeastern pines, making them well-suited to withstand increasing incidents and extreme weather associated with climate change.

This project is helping the gopher tortoise, which makes its home in pine flatwoods of longleaf pine. In a 2012 review of the Endangered Species Act candidate listing of the tortoise, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified habitat fragmentation, destruction and modification as the primary threats to the terrestrial turtle. The gopher tortoise is considered a keystone species in the region, as the burrows it constructs for its home are used by hundreds of other species.

Since partnering with the national nonprofit conservation organization 20 years ago, Eddie Bauer has helped plant more than 6.5 million trees. With the launch of The One Tree Initiative, Eddie Bauer pledges its continued support of American Forests’ mission to protect, restore and conserve threatened forest.

Author: - Monday, March 21st, 2016

  1. Aymee laurain

    Correction: Florida Black Bear do not thrive well in longleaf pine forests due to the frequency of burning preventing stable food source as well as burn schedules affecting denning seasons. These forests actually cause the bears to seek food sources outside their home range and often result in a spike in nuisance bear complaints.

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