AUBURN – Southeastern landowners interested in converting their land into longleaf pine forests for the economic and environmental benefits now have an important resource for information and services in the recently created Center for Longleaf Pine Ecosystems in Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
There is growing recognition by Alabama landowners of the economic, ecological and recreational returns from longleaf pine forests and in the last 10 years longleaf pine acreage in Alabama has increased by 60 percent.
Auburn University is recognized as the leading university in the nation in the study, research and management of longleaf pine and the new center will be the only one of its kind in the country.
The center will provide information about longleaf pine ecosystem management, research ways to improve longleaf pine restoration and management activities and provide a variety of ecological, social and economic services for the people in the Southeast.
The longleaf pine ecosystem once stretched southward throughout nine states, from Virginia to east Texas, and covered more than 140,000 square miles and 90 million acres. Today, longleaf pine occupies about three million acres across the Southeast. Of the 18.2 million acres existing in Alabama in 1880, only 860,000 acres remain.
Incentives to replant land with longleaf pine and also to better manage existing forests include the longleaf’s ability to thrive better on poor sites than other southern pines, its versatility in producing a variety of products, the high quality of its lumber, the protection it provides to rare plants and animals and investment security. Other benefits of having land planted in longleaf pine forests include aesthetics, hunting habitat, water purification, soil stabilization and the high level of carbon sequestration found in Southern pine forests.
In addition to providing information and services, the center will provide an umbrella for faculty to pursue research and outreach efforts in longleaf pine and enhance interdisciplinary collaboration with the School of Forestry and Wildlife and other departments on campus.