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Longleaf pine: A sustainable approach for increasing terrestrial carbon in the southern United StatesAuthor(s): John S. Kush; Ralph S. Meldahl; Charles K. McMahon; William D. Boyer
Source: Environmental Management 33(1): S139-S147
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionNatural communities dominated by longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) once covered an estimated two thirds of the forested area in the southeastern United States. Today, less than 1.2 million ha remain. However, over the past 10-15 years, public land managers have begun to restore many longleaf pine forests. More recently incentive programs have prompted reforestation and afforestation promgrams on onindustrial private lands. These activities have been facilitated by improved longleaf regeneration technology and by expanded educational and outreach efforts. In the South, there is also a growing trend towards longer rotations due to changes in wood/fiber markets and prices. These trends suggest a new strategy to increase terrestrial carbon storage in the southeastern United States in a way that provides many simultaneous ecological and economic benefits. For example, longleaf pine is a long-lived species with a low mortality rate. Among the southern pine species, it has a high specific gravity and can tolerate a wide variety of habitats. Longleaf pine is better able to sustain growth at older ages (over 150 years) and is tolerant to fire and many insects and diseases. Recent research also indicates that longleaf pine managed for longer rotations outperforms other commercial southern pine species on most sites and might better adapt to future climate scenarios with higher temperatures and higher atmospheric CO2 levels. Moreover, the higher-value, longer-lasting wood products derived from longleaf pine forests will continue to store carbon over long time periods.
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CitationKush, John S.; Meldahl, Ralph S.; McMahon, Charles K.; Boyer, William D. 2004. Longleaf pine: A sustainable approach for increasing terrestrial carbon in the southern United States. Environmental Management 33(1): S139-S147
KeywordsLongleaf pine, Pinus palustris, carbon sequestration, carbon storage, US southern forests, carbon sink
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