Longleaf pine: a long-rotation tree in a very short-sighted world.
Longleaf pine is a long-rotation tree, with potential intermediate products from pine straw, frequent thinnings, hunting leases, and wildlife habitat. Despite a focus on plantations and short-rotation management, many landowners and managers are still interested in long-term management because of high-valued products derived from longer rotations. Do we have the most basic and reliable information to write management plans for long-term rotations like a 45-, 65-, or 120-year rotations? Can we improve planning for longleaf silvicultural activities of regeneration, thinning, and burning? We would argue the data exists to help answer these questions in the U.S. Forest Service's Regional Longleaf Growth Study (RLGS) established in 1964. The study's original objective was to obtain a database to develop growth and yield predictions for naturally regenerated, even-aged longleaf pine stands. We have expanded the RLGS to examine pine straw, utility pole, forage production, and more. Recent results include a site index equation and stand level growth models. The RLGS has 40+ years implementation of basal area management regimes and replication in time component that can address adaptive management and climate change issues. The future of the RLGS is doubtful and "how can this be?" is a good question. This irreplaceable investment of decades in documented management cannot be ignored and should be more relevant with longleaf pine restoration efforts. This presentation will show how the nearly 50-year old RLGS has addressed numerous questions related to longleaf pine management and the importance for its continuance.