Goal: Deliver Benefits to the Public Use more tools from the toolbox: simple and innovative tactics for restoration of fire-adapted southern yellow pine ecosystems across the South
Native, mature southern pine ecosystems are shrinking on the landscape, and the plants and animals that depend upon them are in trouble as well. A broader view of forest management, especially tactics associated with partial cutting, prescribed fire, and tree planting, will be key to restoring these fire-adapted southern yellow pine forests across the region.
The area of planted stands of southern pines are estimated to exceed 50 million acres by 2060. Most will be managed primarily for timber and fiber production using rotation lengths of less than three decades. This has been a tremendous silvicultural success. However, weighing against that success is the associated decline of native fire-adapted ecosystems dominated by longleaf pine and shortleaf pine – as well as the plants and animals adapted to open woodland habitats. Three elements of silvicultural practice will be needed to recover these ecosystems. First, on sites where longleaf or shortleaf pines no longer exist but to which they are adapted, planting will be a primary tool to re-establish those species. Second, the reintroduction of fire in stands and landscapes through prescribed burning will be important but difficult to integrate into operational management. Third, natural stands with a minor component of either longleaf pine or shortleaf pine, there are silvicultural opportunities to bring those species back to dominance. These include reproduction cutting or thinning, prescribed burning, and release treatments. Efforts are under way, especially on National Forest lands, to recover longleaf and shortleaf pine ecosystems.
- Principal Investigator
- James M. Guldin, Senior Research Silviculturist
- 4855 - Center for Integrated Forest Science
- Strategic Program Area
- Resource Management and Use
- Fire and Fuels
- Wildlife and Fish
- Restoration of native fire-adapted southern pine-dominated forest ecosystems: diversifying the tools in the silvicultural toolbox
- Research Partners
- All of the national forests in the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service
- External Partners
- Private lands, especially family forests, across the South