A US pine species thrives when burnt. Southerners are rekindling a ‘fire culture’ to boost its range

by James Pollard
The Associated Press
December 15, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US East

WEST END, North Carolina — Jesse Wimberley, 65, gathers groups across eight North Carolina counties to starve future wildfires by lighting leaf litter ablaze. …Prescribed burn associations are proving key to conservationists’ efforts to restore a longleaf pine range forming the backbone of forest ecology in the American Southeast. Volunteer teams, many working private land are filling service and knowledge gaps one blaze at a time. …The longleaf pine ecosystem spans just 3% of the 140,000 square miles (360,000 square kilometers) it encompassed before industrialization and urbanization. But some pockets remain, from Virginia to Texas to Florida.  Private landowners are central to the coalition’s latest restoration effort. They hold roughly 86% of forested land in the South, according to America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative. …As the severity and frequency of storms, droughts and wildfires increase, longleaf pines could become even more important for ecological resilience.

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