Longleaf Pine at a 50-Year High in South Carolina

FIA data shows success of restoration efforts

Longleaf pine stand with young, small diameter trees. Photo by Erich Vallery, U.S. Forest Service, courtesy of bugwood.org.
Longleaf pine stand with young, small diameter trees. Photo by Erich Vallery, U.S. Forest Service, courtesy of bugwood.org.

Efforts to restore longleaf pine forests in South Carolina are proving quite successful, according to data published by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) unit.

Longleaf pine forests now occupy less than three percent of an original range estimated at around 92 million acres that once stretched across the coastal plains of the South. Longleaf pine is the keystone species in a unique ecosystem that includes threatened and endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker. Restoring longleaf pine forests to benefit these species and for other purposes is a top priority for managers of federal, state, and private lands across the southern states.

The FIA resource update Forests of South Carolina, 2013, which provides an overview of the state’s forest lands for that year, reports an all-time high of 207.5 million longleaf pine trees in South Carolina, an increase of 3.5 percent since the 2011 survey.

As of 2013, approximately 13 million acres – or 68 percent — of South Carolina’s 19.3 million-acre land area were forested, with 88 percent of forest land privately owned. Longleaf pine was present on about 8 percent of the forested area, and accounted for at least 50 percent of the basal area in half of the stands where it occurred. There were significant increases in longleaf pines on both natural and planted stands. As expected, nearly half of the trees were in the smallest class of 1 to 3 inches diameter at breast height.

“Since 2001, the number of longleaf pine trees nearly doubled, from 104.4 million to 207.5 million trees,” said Anita Rose, FIA ecologist and author of the update. “The significant increases in this species over the short term are a testament to the planting efforts taking part across the state.”

Read the full text of the report.

For more information, email Anita Rose at anitarose@fs.fed.us.

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