With more people and changing land uses threatening the future of the South’s forests, a group of conservation partners have united to “Keep Forests as Forests.” The Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation was created in 2008 after several forest conservation and management organization met to discuss this growing concern about the future sustainability of the large tracts of forestland in the South.
“The purpose of this Partnership is to develop innovative approaches to ensure the permanent conservation of forest cover in large forested blocks in the Southeast to achieve a variety of societal, economic and environmental benefits,” said Paul Trianosky of The Nature Conservancy (currently with the American Forest Foundation).
The Partnership operates as a broad coalition of collaborators bringing together the strengths of each to focus energy and efforts to increase the retention of working forest landscapes across the southeastern United States. The goal of the Partnership is to coordinate actions to result in the protection of up to 20 million additional acres by 2020.
"This type of conservation work is critical and urgent", says Ken Arney, Deputy Regional Forester, State and Private Forestry for the Southern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. “Our studies suggest that as much as 23 million acres of forestland could be lost to other uses in the South by 2060."
“Large intact forests provide numerous environmental benefits for plants, animals and humans,” said Mike Clutter, dean and Hargreaves professor of forest finance at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Quality of life for many will diminish if this trend is not reversed. Many of the large, contiguous forestland ownerships have changed hands in recent years, increasing, in many cases, the probability of their eventual fragmentation and resale into smaller parcels. These smaller parcels create unique and challenging conservation situations in many cases.”
An Active Prescribed Burn
Thinned Southern Pine Working Forest (photo courtesy of Mary Olszewski)
Longleaf Pine (photo courtesy of J.J. Bachant-Brown, The Longleaf Alliance)
Mapping This website, www.seesouthernforests.org, produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI), is a web-based mapping tool that broadly communicates publicly available data to demonstrate the scale of forest conversion in the southern United States. Datasets such as wildfire, suburbanization, and pest and disease outbreaks are overlaid over satellite maps to allow users to view time series change of forest cover over 35 years.