Resilience In The Face Of An Uncertain Future
As climate change, water shortages, and other crises continue to challenge our natural world, longleaf pines are standing strong — ensuring that people can thrive. “We’re restoring this iconic ecosystem, and that provides all of these different cobenefits to people and to nature,” explains Lord.
One of those benefits is clean water, including drinking water for millions of residents. “A healthy forest system helps filter the water in our aquifers and groundwater. It prevents water loss from runoff,” says Denhof. “You want water to soak into the ground, versus just rolling off like on a parking lot. Even a pasture doesn’t absorb the same amount of water that a forest with native ground cover can.”
Another benefit is carbon capture to help reduce the effects of climate change. Longleaf pines live an average of 250 years. That means they’re capable of storing more carbon for longer periods of time, bettering the environment for us all.
And then there’s the resistance to fire, drought, and hurricane-force winds. As natural disasters intensify with climate change, they threaten to destroy the landscape. But longleaf pines remain rooted to the ground, their adaptability allowing them to weather these extremes and ensure the future of the forest.
As a shared passion for this tree continues to grow, more and more landowners are getting involved in efforts to restore longleaf pine forests. Lord sees it first-hand when she works with people interested in planting these trees for the first time.
“They’re entranced by the mystique of the longleaf fo rests, all the cool wildlife that are part of it, and the fire. They love the story,” she says. And really, how could they not?