Helping Longleaf Pine Trees Make a Comeback

Here’s to the land of the longleaf pine…so begins the state toast of North Carolina, but much of that longleaf forest in North Carolina has been lost to clearcutting for the tar and turpentine industry. Now, longleaf pine trees are making a comeback in the Southeast, with some help from several dedicated groups. Gary Crawford has more.

At one time, the longleaf pine tree and its unique ecosystem covered 90 million acres across the southeast. But by 1995, it was down to just 3 million and shrinking. And so several organizations came together with one goal:

Bring back long leaf where it’s appropriate and where we are able to manage it properly.

Carol Denhof is president of the Longleaf Alliance, and as you heard, by the mid-1990s, total longleaf acreage had shrunk to 3 million acres buy,

Through the work that the longleaf Alliance and our other partners within the Americas long leaf Restoration Initiative are doing. We’re now at about 5.2 million acres of longleaf pine and growing.

One of those partners that she talks about there in the Longleaf Restoration Initiative is the US Department of Agriculture. USDA Undersecretary for Foreign Production and Conservation is Robert Bonnie, and he says the work being done to restore longleaf pine forests and maintain them is generating positive outcomes for

Local economies, national defense, endangered species, forest resiliency, clean air and water, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation.

Of course, as we’ve already heard, there are dozens and dozens of groups and agencies and individuals working on the Longleaf Restoration Initiative.

I know from my days beginning in longleaf conservation over 30 years ago, the importance of working together as a team, we accomplished nothing alone.

To that end in Washington just a few days ago, the USDA hosted a gathering of groups working on this, too, as Carol Denhof put it, to celebrate what’s been done over the last 15 years.

And think about what we will be doing for the next 15 years.

Fifteen years ago the Departments of Agriculture and the Department of Defense and Interior, those three signed an agreement to be full partners in restoring longleaf pine forests. And at this recent gathering, they signed a new agreement to renew the partnership.

And guide us into the next 15 years of restoring our country’s vital longleaf pine forests.