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American Forests Conservation Spotlight: Alabama Longleaf Pine Restoration Project
Posted on May 31, 2016

Longleaf pine is considered a keystone species as it supports habitat for a variety of wildlife. Credit: USDA Forest Service.

This year was a big year for American Forests, with the planting of the organization’s 50 millionth tree. So this year we are celebrating our longstanding partnership with the conservation nonprofit by profiling twelve projects that we’ve backed with our efforts. So far we’ve shined a spotlight on worthy reforestation undertakings in a fire damaged area of the San Bernardino Mountains, a replanting effort of Longleaf Pine in Florida and a spruce beetle epidemic in Colorado—all in some way connected to the ecological impact of climate change. This month we travel to the deep south, profiling an effort to bring back a longleaf pine savannah ecosystem in Alabama. —LYA Editor

This project is working to restore native longleaf pine to this coastal conservation property that is home to Bachmann’s sparrow and numerous rare shore bird species. Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Location: Oakmulgee Ranger District, Talladega National Forest, Alabama 

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.

The gopher tortoise, which makes its home in pine flatwoods of longleaf pine, is considered a keystone species in the region, as the burrows it constructs for its home are used by hundreds of other species. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

American Forests is working with the Longleaf Alliance and U.S. Forest Service to plant 60,000 longleaf pine trees. This four-year project aims to restore the area to the longleaf pine savannah ecosystem.

The goal of the project is to remove the loblolly pine and the mixed hardwoods from some of the upland areas and plant longleaf pine to restore the area to the longleaf pine savannah ecosystem that would have been more prevalent prior to European settlement of the area and the exclusion of a natural fire regime.

Talladega National Forest covers 392,567 acres in Alabama at the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr

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. Donate to the cause at AmericanForests.org.

Author: - Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
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  1. Cynthia Koss

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