A partnership with The Nature Conservency, Hancock Timber Resource Group and the Talladega
National Forest impacts America’s
Longleaf Conservation Plan.
COUNTY, AL – December 5, 2014 – More than 1,400 acres of longleaf pine habitat in the Oakmulgee
District of the Talladega National Forest will be protected through an
acquisition supported by The Nature Conservancy and the Open Space Institute.
The transaction, consisting of nine parcels purchased from
Hancock Timber Resource Group, will expand existing longleaf pine habitat
restoration efforts onto private lands directly adjacent to Alabama’s National
Forests and other public lands.
“Because the longleaf pine
ecosystem supports dozens of at-risk species, this area is a conservation
priority. This acquisition will provide long-term benefits in protecting
wildlife, and support the restoration of the forest. We are delighted to join
The Nature Conservancy in protecting these properties and hope to build on this
achievement through future projects,” said Nate Berry, Vice President at
the Open Space Institute.
This nearly $2.5 million purchase is a culmination of
several years of effort by The Nature Conservancy and was made possible with a
low interest loan of $2.18
million from the Open Space Institute. Although longleaf pine provides
habitat to over thirty threatened and endangered species, it covers less than 3
percent of its original 90 million-acre range.
“With our partners, The Conservancy worked behind the scenes
to identify these important properties and find unique strategies to get the
deal done,” said Chris Oberholster, state director, The Nature Conservancy in
The Open Space Institute has been an active conservation
partner in the southeast for the past decade, having given $23 million worth of
grants and loans to protect a total of 31,000 acres. Earlier this year, it also
acquired, with the Nature Conservancy, 2,223 acres of longleaf pine habitat in coastal
South Carolina. The Open Space Institute’s Resilient
Landscape Initiative currently focuses on protecting lands that can
facilitate wildlife adaptation to climate change on the Southern Cumberland
Plateau in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
In the past five years, the Open Space Institute has also
conducted research on trends in land conservation, including an analysis of
forestland ownership in eastern North Carolina; a climate vulnerability
assessment in the Southern Cumberlands; and an analysis of threats and
opportunities to restore longleaf pine.
This is the second time that the Open Space Institute and
The Nature Conservancy have partnered to protect land in Alabama. In 2012, OSI
provided a $500,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy to protect the 11,364-acre Jacobs
Mountain property in Jackson County, Alabama.
Going forward, The Nature
Conservancy will work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to restore the
lands to longleaf pine woodlands. Once reestablished with native longleaf, the
tracts will provide key habitat for stabilizing the red-cockaded woodpecker
populations in the upper coastal plains of Alabama.