Species-rich longleaf pine forests once stretched across the South, nearly unbroken, from Virginia to Florida to Texas. Today only 3 percent remains of the 90-million acre original system, which included open pine savannas with a lush understory of native grasses and groundcover.
Four of the very best remnants are in Florida’s Panhandle and continue down to the Ocala-Wekiva region. They host a remarkably diverse plant and animal community that includes some 300 bird and 2,500 plant species. Many of them depend upon a forest structure that is maintained by a frequent fire cycle.
Longleaf pine forests benefit humans as well as wildlife. They support our freshwater systems, provide natural resilience to catastrophic storms, and help sustain the regional economy. But Florida’s forests need our help – can you join us today with a safe and secure online gift?
It’s sad but true. Our remaining longleaf pine system faces many threats: fragmentation, population growth and rapid development, improper management, and changes in climate that leave a forest vulnerable to insect infestation, disease and a suffocating spread of invasive, non-native species. It’s a challenge to conserve a forest’s essential elements within the context of human activity.
The Conservancy has begun a massive project – working across seven states in partnership with many agencies and organizations – to protect, restore and expand the forests. Our goal is to grow the ecosystem to 8 million acres by 2024. This will require land protection, thoughtful land use planning and state-of-the-art stewardship.
We collaborate regularly with the U.S. Forest Service; all three of Florida’s national forests include important stands of prime pine habitat. We’ll keep you informed and thanks for your support! Won't you join us?
BRSF lies within the world’s largest longleaf pine/wiregrass complex. At 209,571 acres it may be Florida’s premier state forest, yet it’s threatened from all sides and from within. The Conservancy has patiently purchased prime tracts inside or connected to the forest, returning 15,000 acres to the forest between 2007 and 2009.
This magnificent, 6,295-acre Conservancy preserve is a window into longleaf pine habitat restoration at its best. Since 1985, our team has worked to recreate the once-vital ecosystem located in this biological hotspot and today it’s well on its way. The preserve is also home to the rarest of habitats: steephead streams and ravines.
Our 12,000-acre Central Florida preserve, home to 18 natural communities, includes an impressive forest stand. Since taking ownership of this heavily-logged ranchland in 1992, we have restored the property so the longleaf pines once again support a population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, absent here for decades.
It’s impossible to discuss longleaf pine habitat without a mention of prescribed fire. Indeed, it’s said that fire is to the longleaf pine forest as rain is the rainforest. Using low-intensity, controlled burns, Conservancy fire teams rejuvenate many of Florida’s habitats and keep them prime for imperiled native plants and animals.
Slideshow: Fire keeps LLP habitat alive