Status of longleaf pine in the South: an FIA update
In this report, we present an update on the status of longleaf pine in the Southern United States. Specifically, we provide selected tables and summary data for the two longleaf pine-dominant forest types—the longleaf pine type and the longleaf pine/oak type—using the latest round of forest inventory data from each of the nine States encompassing the range of longleaf pine. The report represents 7–8 years of change in the longleaf pine resource, and it provides a comparison with a previously published report on the history and current condition of longleaf pine. The data presented here show that the two dominant longleaf pine forest types occupy slightly more than 4.5 million acres across the South, a net gain of only about 232,000 acres since the 2012 report. But there are strong indications in this 2020 update that clearly show that efforts to restore this iconic forest type are meeting with success. There are dramatic increases in live tree longleaf pine numbers in the 10.9-inch and smaller diameter classes, and similar increases in the area of longleaf pine forest types in the 0–40 year age classes, both of which far exceed numbers in the previous 2012 report. In essence, a wave of ingrowth is headed toward the sawtimber size classes as efforts to establish and manage smaller size and age classes across all ownerships have been underway for several decades, and especially during the last 10 years. The data trends noted underscore the commitment to enhancing the establishment and development of new and existing longleaf pine stands, and especially the importance of planting to restore longleaf pine. This commitment has been strongly supported by public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as private nongovernmental organizations like the Longleaf Alliance and the Longleaf Partnership Council, established under the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative.