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Status of the Longleaf Alliance

The Longleaf Alliance is alive, well and growing!

The original Longleaf Alliance, after nearly fifteen years as a successful program housed in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University, re-organized itself in 2008 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. Co-founder Rhett Johnson remains as the President of the organization. Click here for information on the Board.

The Longleaf Alliance’s mission remains the conservation and restoration of significant functioning longleaf pine ecosystems across the southeastern United States forest landscape. The longleaf pine ecosystem once occupied an estimated 90 million acres in the region and its unique and favorable economic, ecological and social values have been well documented. By the early 1990s, only about 2.8 million acres of this once vast and majestic forest remained. Due in large part to the efforts of The Longleaf Alliance and its many partners over many years, the acreage in longleaf forest has increased to approximately 3.2 million acres, the first such increase since the time of settlement. Better understanding of the non-timber characteristics of longleaf ecosystems has increased the quality and supply of those conservation values

The Board of Directors of The Longleaf Alliance met on January 20-21, 2009 to review the status of and set the direction for the newly established non-profit organization. The Board was aided in its work by utilizing the “America’s Longleaf Conservation Plan,” which was developed by a Regional Working Group composed of several government and NGOs, including The Longleaf Alliance. This effort was initiated by The Longleaf Alliance in 2005 and quickly became a collaborative effort involving many stakeholders and written by a team representing federal, state and private interests. A goal of 8 million acres of longleaf pine was affirmed through:

  • Maintaining existing longleaf ecosystems in good condition;
  • Improving acres classified as “longleaf forest types” and with longleaf present but missing significant components of understory communities and fire regimes to support representative communities of longleaf ecosystems; and
  • Restoring longleaf pine forests to areas currently in other forest types or land classifications.

In addition to maintaining a relationship with Auburn University through the Longleaf Stand Dynamics Laboratory and the Center for Longleaf Pine Ecosystems, research and outreach partnerships with other universities and organizations are in place and additional partnerships are constantly being sought. Support for outreach and research projects that augment Alliance goals will be provided when resources permit. Memoranda of Understanding between The Longleaf Alliance and several state and federal agencies and NGOs are also in place or pending. The Alliance is actively involved in the newly formed Regional Longleaf Council, a partnership involving state, federal, and private organizations with the purpose of bettering communications between groups and organizations with the goal of restoring and conserving longleaf ecosystems. A prominent player in that organization, the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership, perhaps the most successful of several local teams across the longleaf region, is now an arm of The Longleaf Alliance, with all of those team members joining Director Vernon Compton as Alliance employees over the next several months. We now have working partnerships with and a presence in NRCS offices in Florida and Alabama, as well a relationship and a presence with NRCS and Mississippi’s state wildlife agency. These professionals are charged with assisting landowners with longleaf restoration efforts, particularly as regards Farm Bill and other cost-share programs.

The Longleaf Alliance will remain the hands-on/go-to organization for “all things longleaf,” providing outreach and “how-to” information on longleaf pine conservation and management to landowners of all stripes, agencies, consultants and managers. For instance, the Alliance’s Biennial Regional Conference was held in October 2010 in Columbia, SC and was attended by about 325 people. This was the 8th such Conference organized and conducted by the organization, all of which have demonstrated the ability of the Alliance to pull together longleaf enthusiasts from across the range of the species as well as an audience with amazingly diverse backgrounds and interests. The 9th Biennial Conference will be held in October 2012 in Nacogdoches, TX.

The Alliance offers education and outreach in several different formats. We continue to conduct workshops and field days for landowners and natural resource professionals across the longleaf range, with workshops in Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia already scheduled in early 2012. At a more intense level, the Alliance conducts three and four day Longleaf 101 Academies for professionals and advanced landowners, with course offerings in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi completed through 2011 for a total of 26 and 564 graduates. These courses provide in-depth instruction in all aspects of longleaf ecosystem conservation and management. Several 101 Academies are currently scheduled for 2012. Supplemental “201” Academies on targeted topics such as understory restoration, herbicides and longleaf, and pine straw production are also being offered with several scheduled for 2012. An on-line course in the Economics of Longleaf will soon be offered through the Southern Regional Forestry Extension System based at the University of Georgia. We have also produced, with the help of SRFES, several webinars on topics like the control of large-flowered partridge pea in CRP plantings, with more in the works. Details of the academies and of other activities and offerings can be obtained on this website in the Longleaf Academy and Coming Events sections, or in the organization’s newsletter, The Longleaf Leader.

The future is bright for longleaf ecosystems and The Longleaf Alliance is definitely on its way to expanding its efforts and programs!

We strive to:

  • Re-establish longleaf forests where they once existed;
  • Restore degraded longleaf where it still exists; and
  • Secure the future of existing longleaf forests across the region.

Our goal:
To create a region-wide network of resource professionals available to land owners and armed with the latest and best longleaf information.  To that end, continuing education courses put on by the LLA and directed towards consulting foresters, biologists, and other natural resource professionals better equips them to serve the public and the resource.

We emphasize:
The ecological and economic values of longleaf forests.  The LLA reaches out to private and public landowners alike with the best available science, technical support, and management information to facilitate longleaf restoration efforts.

Partners of the LLA

  • Local, state and federal resource agencies;
  • Forest industries;
  • Non-governmental conservation organizations;
  • Research institutions;
  • Universities;
  • Natural resource professionals from the private sector;
  • Forest landowners; and
  • Others interested in longleaf forests
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