Longleaf pine forests once encompassed more than 90 million acres of the North American landscape. Today, only three percent, or 3.4 million acres, remain and, yet, Longleaf pine forests represent some of the world's most biologically diverse ecosystems. The Longleaf pine ecosystem provides critical habitat for 29 threatened and endangered species.
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has designated the Longleaf Pine Range as one of eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCAs) in the U.S.
As part of the initiative, NRCS and its conservation partners in nine states are helping private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of Longleaf pine forest ecosystems.
Ocmulgee River Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Tim Allen and his wife Harriette are working to establish longleaf pine trees on their farm in Pulaski County, Georgia.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Tim Allen said. “It’s a way to conserve for our future, for my children, and grandchildren on down the road. If you’re not into farming, row crops and things, plant your idle land in trees. Trees give us clean oxygen and wildlife habitat.”
Working with the NRCS, they’re working through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to manage healthy forests. The Allens are doing their part to contribute toward NRCS’s effort to restore longleaf pine across the Southeast. America's Longleaf Pine Initiative has set a goal of increasing longleaf acreage from 3.4 million to 8 million acres in 15 years.
"In the last couple of years, we’ve seen bobwhite quail come back on our property,” Allen said. “We hadn’t seen any in 20 to 25 years. We just love to listen to them call their unique call. Bobwhite is what it sounds like.”
Encouraging signs of life like these will not only help keep the Allens focused on longleaf pine restoration efforts but will also continue to inspire the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, NRCS, and conservation partners to reach more private landowners and help them improve sustainability and profitability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems across Georgia and in eight other states.