The Importance Of Longleaf Pine

June 16, 2016 3:56 pm
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Why is Longleaf Pine Important to the Ocala National Forest?

Longleaf Pines eco-system is native to the Southeastern part of the United states, reaching from Texas to Southeast Virginia. Longleaf pine creates a habitat that numerous animals rely on in the Ocala National forest including gopher tortises, red-cockaded woodpeckers, sherman’s fox squirrel and many more. Not only do these trees support a wide diversity of wildlife, they create a beautiful backdrop for visitors to visit and explore.

The United States Forest Service is conducting prescribed burning programs in the 258,864-acre Francis Marion National Forest, located outside of Charleston, South Carolina. They are hoping to increase the longleaf pine forest type to 44,700 acres by 2017 and 53,500 acres in the long term. In addition to Longleaf restoration, prescribed burning will enhance the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers’ preferred habitat of open, park-like stands, provide habitat for wildlife dependent on grass-shrub habitat, which is very limited, and reduce the risk of damaging wildfires.

Since the 1960s, Longleaf restoration has been ongoing on almost 95,000 acres of state and federal land in the sandhills region of South Carolina, between the piedmont and coastal plain. The region is characterized by deep, infertile sands deposited by a prehistoric sea, with generally arid conditions. By the 1930s, most of the native longleaf had been logged, and the land was heavily eroded. Between 1935-1939, the federal government purchased large portions of this area from local landowners as a relief measure under the Resettlement Administration. These landowners were resettled on more fertile land elsewhere.

Today, the South Carolina Sand Hills State Forest comprises approximately half of the acreage, and half is owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as the adjacent Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. At first, restoration of forest cover was the goal. Fire suppression was practiced until the 1960s, when prescribed fire was introduced on both the state forest and the Sandhills NWR as part of the restoration of the longleaf/wiregrass ecosystem.

To learn more about the National Forest foundation feel free to visit their website here and see the other programs they’ve initiated over the years. To learn more about’s involvement with Tree for Us, follow this link.