Southeast Forestry Program

Longleaf pine forest

Spanning across the low-lying and sandy soils of the Coastal Plain, the gentle slopes and clay soils of the Piedmont, and the steep sloping terrains of the southern Appalachian Mountains, the forests of the southeastern U.S. are widely recognized for their high biodiversity.

Before Europeans arrived in North America, longleaf pine forests dominated the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeastern Virginia—as much as 90 million acres throughout the southeast, but today there is less than 3.5 million acres remaining. The loss of these forests has had huge impacts on the region’s wildlife. 

Wildlife species living in longleaf forests include northern bobwhite quail, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, striped newts, southeastern pocket gophers, pinewoods treefrogs, mimic glass lizards, pine and prairie warblers, eastern indigo snakes, Bachman's sparrows and many more.

Longleaf pine forests also provide benefits to 29 species on Federal threatened or endangered lists, but these pine forests are one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Land cover change and management factors have prompted significant population and range area declines for a number of native forest-dependent wildlife and plants throughout the Southeast over the past two centuries. The National Wildlife Federation has a number of initiatives underway to protect and restore Southeast forests.

Longleaf Pine Restoration

Longleaf pine restoration will both protect native biodiversity and help the South better prepare for climate change. NWF is a member of the America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, a large working group of organizations and agencies that collaborate to support longleaf pine restoration efforts throughout the historic range. These efforts have stopped a century long decline in the species and resulted in a first time increase of longleaf pine on the southeast landscape over the past decade..

In Alabama, NWF and its affiliate, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, has worked with landowners to plant, manage and restore longleaf pine on over 9,000acres of private land. The Alabama Longleaf Restoration on Private Lands project receives funding from Southern Company through their National Fish and Wildlife Foundation partnership to expand the range of longleaf pine throughout the southeast.

Rural Economic Development

NWF engages in ongoing efforts to provide education and outreach that is necessary for landowners to manage their forested land using best practices, as well as to build local wealth in communities. Gaining private landowner participation in the forestry marketplace enables these landowners to keep their lands forested for their families and future generations to enjoy. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides a sustainable certification system for forest products that provides incentives for private landowners to sustainably grow forest products, as well as providing a stamp of approval for forest products so that consumers can make sustainable purchasing decisions. Currently, more than 68,000 acres of forests are certified under an FSC group certificate managed by NWF in partnership with the Alabama Treasure Forest Association. 

We are also working to include underserved landowner participation in our FSC group certificate and longleaf pine restoration projects. So far, we have helped fifty minority landowners receive and implement management plans for their forested property. Ten of these landowners are working to meet the standards to join the FSC group certificate.

We are also educating landowners on conservation-based forestry and improved agricultural practices.


Learn more about other programs in this region>>

Get Our E-Newsletter 
Shop our Garden for Wildlife Gift Guide!
Subscribe to Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. Today!