MS SAF Position Statement on Longleaf Restoration and Management
The Mississippi Society of American Foresters (MS SAF) supports the restoration and maintenance of longleaf pine on appropriate sites in the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi.
In presettlement times, fire was an important component of the ecosystem and, as a result, longleaf pine forests occupied an estimated 60 million acres (and may have occurred in mixed stands on another 30 million acres). This ecosystem declined dramatically for a variety of reasons to less than approximately 3.5 million fragmented acres (96% decline). According to a 2006 inventory, Mississippi now has less than 210,000 acres of natural longleaf pine stands. More than half (52%) of the total longleaf acreage in Mississippi is held by private, nonindustrial forest landowners.
Although the overstory is dominated by longleaf pine, this ecosystem has one of the richest species diversity outside of the Tropics. The decline of longleaf pine has contributed to the threatened or endangered status of 26 federally listed plant and seven wildlife species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise keystone species.
Restoration is defined as "an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its health, integrity, and sustainability". Restoration is complete when the ecosystem will sustain itself structurally and functionally. When there are no seed trees present, restoration can be initiated by either direct seeding or by planting nursery grown seedlings.
Investment in longleaf pine production may produce attractive financial returns from sawtimber and pulpwood. Since longleaf pine has a tall, straight form, it is ideal for producing high-valued poles. Longleaf pine straw, preferred over other varieties of pine, can be quite profitable.
Longleaf pine is more resistant to most diseases and insects, than other southern pine species. Longleaf pine has more wind resistance than other pine species, an important factor to consider in hurricane prone areas. Longleaf grows well on sandy soils, is fire resistant, and actually thrives from periodic fires. Well-managed stands of longleaf pine are aesthetically pleasing due to its park-like appearance.
Government and Non-Government Incentives
Most potential longleaf pine sites are located on private land. Private landowners have a wide array of federal and/or state financial incentives available to them for longleaf restoration and maintenance, including long-term management for legacy, recreation, wildlife, and timber income.
Originally adopted by the Mississippi Society of American Foresters (MS SAF) on November 14, 2007, revised March 20, 2012. This statement will expire December 31, 2017, unless revised by the MS SAF.