Bringing back the longleaf pine


(NewsUSA) - Longleaf pine was once the dominant tree species in the American south, covering more than 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. These forests, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, represent some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems and are home to nearly 600 plant and animal species, including 29 threatened and endangered species.

But over the last two centuries, agriculture, development, timbering and fire suppression have reduced the longleaf pine’s ecosystem range by almost 97 percent. The towering evergreen got its name for having the longest leaves of the eastern pine species. Often, as they disappeared, these valuable trees were replaced with less expensive and faster-growing varieties.

That loss of ecosystem has been detrimental to the vast animal and plant species that depend on it. That’s why Williams is helping the Arbor Day Foundation replant 50,000 longleaf pine trees in North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana. Williams is an energy infrastructure company that moves one third of the nation’s natural gas.

“Trees and forests are an important part of the solution to some of the most pressing issues facing people and our planet,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The forests we support through this partnership are vital to the health of area wildlife and the continued prosperity of the broader ecosystem.”

As the trees grow, they will help reduce forest fragmentation and give a home to endangered wildlife like the red-cockaded woodpecker, indigo snake and gopher tortoise. They’ll also reduce erosion, due to their ability to grow in sandy and mountainous areas. And because longleaf pine is resistant to weather extremes and disease, these positive impacts have the potential to continue well into the future.

“We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Arbor Day Foundation and make a positive impact together,” said Mark Gebbia, Vice President of Environmental & Regulatory for Williams. “These projects are a way to give back to the environment for the benefit of generations to come.”

Williams has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation on eight projects since 2020, supporting the restoration of 125,290 trees across 247 acres in six states, including New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama.

Planting tree seedlings is one of many environmental stewardship and sustainability projects that Williams is supporting along its nationwide footprint. Others include wetland restorations, building hiking trails, developing wildlife crossings and funding intercity marine education programs.     

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