122 

John Kush, Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences Longleaf Pine Stand Dynamics Lab, kushjoh@auburn.edu (Presenter)
John Gilbert, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Longleaf Pine Stand Dynamics Laboratory, gilbejo@auburn.edu
Rebecca Barlow, Auburn University, becky.barlow@auburn.edu
Dwight Lauer, Silvics Analytic, dklauer.silvics@gmail.com

 

Longleaf pine dominated the southeastern landscape for millennia prior to European settlement due to its evolution, natural history, and resiliency. It maintained itself in a highly disturbed ecosystem, whether the disturbance was frequent fire or wind events. As the original longleaf forests were harvested, there was little regard for regeneration; “the supply of wood was endless.” In the later 20th century sawmill technology improved the ability to use smaller logs and markets developed for pine fiber. Plantation forestry was dominated by loblolly pine due to its responsiveness to cultural treatments, and ease of regeneration. Longleaf was not seriously considered in management plans, except for sites not suitable for loblolly, because of poor survival and slow early growth compared to loblolly and slash pine. Today, the forest landscape is changing as timber markets are no longer what they were and landowner objectives have diversified. There is renewed interest in growing and managing longleaf. One of the potential problems with this longleaf “renaissance” is the desire for longleaf to grow as if it were loblolly or slash pine. It is not. We need to go back and study the silvics of species, a seemingly forgotten aspect of forestry, to better understand regeneration options, opportunities for longer rotation forestry, and the potential product markets for longleaf forests. Data from long-term studies indicates that many long-held beliefs may need to be reconsidered. Longleaf pine is not as intolerant, or as slow a grower as many believe, it is the most resilient of southern pines.