Longleaf pine once covered ninety million acres across the Southeast. But over time, clear-cutting reduced this unique forest to just three percent of its original range.
One of the casualties has been the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. These federally-endangered birds have dwindled to about one percent of their original population. So Audubon South Carolina is now restoring portions of the original forest, joining with other groups across the Southeast that are also devoted to this effort.
Meeting the Challenge
Planting single pines won’t do the trick, as Red-cockaded Woodpeckers need 120 to 200 acres of habitat to thrive. They also prefer older pines, which doesn’t mesh well with the typical plant-and-cut cycle of the lumber industry.
Our solution is to restore 661 acres of longleaf habitat at our Silver Bluff facility and 230 acres of longleaf at Beidler Forest — with plans to restore more acres in the future. We'll also harvest the wood carefully, always leaving habitat for the woodpeckers.
Patience Pays Off
There’s evidence that populations of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers will readily stabilize if habitat is provided. Transplanting them to new locations also seems to be proving fruitful.
With support, time, and effort, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a success story just waiting to happen. Along the way we'll also benefit Northern Bobwhites, Pine Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Bachman’s Sparrows, and more.
If you'd like to spend a day in the woods creating optimal conditions for young longleaf to survive, we'd welcome your company. Please be in touch if you'd like to learn more!