Longleaf pine forests are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, containing rare plants and animals not found anywhere else. Some of the showiest and best known species occur in this region including Venus flytraps, federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, native orchids, and fox squirrels.
Longleaf pine once blanketed 90 million acres from Texas to Virginia. Within decades, longleaf pine had shrunk to just 3 million acres. Why the drastic loss? Longleaf pines aren’t able to survive and thrive without fire. Fire naturally disturbs the landscape and keeps the types of trees in a forest balanced. Without fire, trees that grow much faster than longleaf pine out-compete them for resources. Left unchecked, those trees crowd the forest and keep sunlight from hitting the forest floor. Many plants and animals suffer without that sunlight. Recent decades of fire suppression and development have taken their toll.
In the past five years, The Nature Conservancy has planted more than 700,000 longleaf seedlings in North Carolina. Each year we burn thousands of acres of longleaf forest. We have bought thousands of acres of forest that was once home to longleaf but are in need of restoration.
Today, with concentrated effort, the longleaf pine has rebounded to cover 4.4 million acres.
We hope you will visit some of the preserves listed below to experience the beauty of this extraordinary region.
Discover our favorite parks and preserves.
Longleaf pine forests are home to a diverse community of plants and animals.
Each stage of the longleaf pine tree's remarkable life cycle is suited to its environment.
Fire helps the plants and animals of longleaf forests thrive.
The Conservancy is working with landowners to use controlled burns to manage longleaf forests on their property.
Longleaf pine gave the tar heel state its name and helped land the allies at Normandy.