Destroyed virgin longleaf pine stand lives-on digitallyThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The Flomaton Natural Area (FNA) once stood as one of the few remnant fragments of virgin, old-growth longleaf pine stands (Pinus palustris Mill.) in the Southeast. This 80-acre stand contained trees over 200 years old. A restoration effort began in 1994 to remove off-site trees and to reintroduce fire to the site after over 40 years of fire suppression. A geographic information system (GIS) database was created by compiling the digital data recorded for the FNA, including a stem-map of all longleaf pines ≥ 1-inch d.b.h. (diameter at breast height). The database also includes ages, heights, and crown class information, which provides opportunities for a 3-dimensional digital view of the stand structure. The GIS database contains information for over 4,000 trees. It provides a unique opportunity to spatially explore longleaf pine stand dynamics of a virgin stand and to learn more about long-term management of longleaf pine. The variations in densities, size classes, and ages across the stand will be evaluated to provide information about how longleaf pine grows and the stand dynamics of virgin, old-growth longleaf pine. Gap dynamics of openings in the stand will also be examined, including information about successful regeneration. Despite the successful restoration work and demands to save the stand, the FNA was clearcut in 2008. The stand now lives on in digital form and continues to serve as an educational tool and as a beacon for the acts of mismanagement and loss of the longleaf pine ecosystem today.