The Sandhills spread across southeastern North Carolina, with canopies of longleaf pine forests supporting some of the richest natural communities in North Carolina's Coastal Plain. Once spreading from Virginia to Texas, longleaf pine forests today cover only about four percent of their original range.
The Sandhills is home to many threatened plants and animals, but perhaps the best-known is the red-cockaded woodpecker. The Sandhills hosts the second-largest remaining population of this federally endangered bird. In 2005, the Conservancy and its partners celebrated the first-ever recovery of the red-cockaded woodpecker, five years earlier than projected.
Threats to this ecosystem include fire suppression, which the longleaf pine communities need to maintain their natural equilibrium, and intensive land uses such as pine plantations, agriculture and development.
The Nature Conservancy has targeted for protection nearly 25,000 acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Sandhills. The goal is to “bridge the gap” between already protected lands at Fort Bragg and the Sandhills Game Land, by creating a corridor of protected habitat.
In 2001, the Conservancy joined with the U.S. Army Environmental Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Sandhills Area Land Trust to establish the Conservation Center of the Sandhills, a joint project office to foster the type of community-based, collaborative conservation that The Nature Conservancy relies upon to achieve lasting results.
For more information on how fire has historically helped the Sandhills landscape, see our Prescribed Fire Brochure.