Planning for an uncertain future: Restoration to mitigate water scarcity and sustain carbon sequestration
The desired future conditions of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) can be described by ecosystem structural characteristics as well as by the provision of ecosystem services. Although the desired structural characteristics of restored longleaf pine ecosystems have been described at length, these characteristics deserve a brief review here because ecosystem structure directly contributes to the provision of key ecosystem services and helps differentiate these forests from other land uses in the southeastern United States. Briefly, upland longleaf pine stands managed with frequent fire are characterized by low basal area, an open canopy, a sparse midstory, and a diverse uninterrupted herbaceous layer (Walker and Peet 1983; Platt 1999; Kirkman et al. 2001; McIntyre 2012). Over the long term, emphasizing the single-tree selection method of canopy harvesting will produce an uneven-aged stand structure that adds to complexity and maintains both ecosystem services and long-term economic value (Mitchell et al. 2006). Achieving this characteristic stand structure often serves as a first indicator that restoration goals are being met (Rasser 2003; McIntyre 2012).