Natural Highlights: Restoring the Shortleaf Pine

Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) is a drought-tolerant, hardy, fairly slow-growing native tree of great economic and ecological importance - a resource for lumber and wood products, asource of wildlife food and shelter, and a dominant species in a diverse and unique plant community. But populations of the Shortleaf Pine have declined dramatically, over 50% since the 1980's, due to urbanization, beetle infestations, and other factors. 

Participants in the Baker's Pond Hike on Sept.30th will not only get to see the source of the Wolf River, but also an exciting shortleaf pine-mixed hardwood habitat restoration project, the result of a partnership between Holly Springs National Forest, Mississippi State University, and the Wolf River Conservancy. The restoration project near Baker's Pond is planting both shortleaf pines and mixed hardwoods in the wake of a devastating tornado which plowed through Holly Springs National Forest on Dec.23, 2015. 

From the Shortleaf Pine Initiative website ( 

Shortleaf pine forests and associated habitats once covered a vast area of the continent stretching from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to the eastern seaboard from New Jersey down to Florida. Early settlers and Government Land Office surveys describe these pine dominated and mixed pine-oak forests as open woodlands where sunlight reached the ground and a diverse assortment of native wildlife flourished.

Over the last 30 years, this extensive shortleaf pine ecosystem has lost over 50% of its former acreage with most of the significant decline taking place east of the Mississippi River. Massive pine beetle outbreaks in poorly managed stands, changes in timber management practices, altered fire regimes, disease, and land use changes have contributed to this rapid decline. These forested landscapes across twenty two states represent an extraordinary diversity of cultural, ecological and economic values centered on wildlife and recreation, water quality, and a high-value wood products industry. With millions of people depending on the values and benefits of this imperiled ecosystem, the need to develop a range-wide conservation strategy is more compelling than ever.


Shortleaf Pine Initiative

Posted by Cathy Justis at 10:03 AM