Restoration of longleaf pine in the Southern Region of the U.S. Forest Service: an overview of the Million-Acre ChallengeThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The forested landscapes of the Southern United States have been dramatically altered by land management practices over the last 150 years, which have in turn greatly reduced the extent of several unique ecosystems and the native flora and fauna to which they are adapted. A case in point is the current status of fire-adapted longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems, which have declined by 97 percent since European colonization. Although resource managers across the South began efforts to restore longleaf pine on public and private lands more than 70 years ago, efforts are now underway on National Forest System lands in the Southern Region to increase the pace and scale of the restoration of longleaf pine. We focus on efforts to restore longleaf pine under the auspices of America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, which was authorized by Congress in 2009. In October 2017, the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, launched the Million-Acre Challenge, whose goal is to put an additional 1 million acres of longleaf pine-dominated ecosystems back in our national forests. This restoration effort will bring longleaf pine back to sites where it had been eliminated or reduced in scale and scope, and on sites to which it is ecologically adapted, in an effort to increase resilient landscapes that are adaptable to future climate changes. As one of the largest public land management agencies in the longleaf range, the Forest Service embraces the opportunity to lead this restoration effort and to provide successful results that can support and encourage other public agencies and private landowners to follow suit.