How to Anchor an Eco-System
The southeastern United States was once covered in pine forests — home to a variety of native species like deer, turkey, and quail. Among the old-growth stands of longleaf and loblolly pine, families of red-cockaded woodpeckers found shelter in nests high above the forest floor, safe from snakes and other predators. And gopher tortoises burrowed deep into the sandy soil beneath the pines, protecting themselves from heat and humidity. These pine ecosystems encouraged the growth of native grasses and other vegetation that provided food and habitat for these beautiful creatures.
Trees give life in so many ways: by providing shade and shelter, by purifying water, and by revitalizing habitats through...growth, decay, and rebirth.
Pine is essential to this habitat; without it, small trees, shrubs, and brambles take over, eliminating shade and choking grasses and other food sources. Over time, many southern pine forests were cleared to make way for agriculture or logging and natural, habitat-renewing fires were extinguished out of fear. In the absence of abundant longleaf and loblolly pine, both the red-cockaded woodpecker and the gopher tortoise became endangered.
Trees give life in so many ways: by providing shade and shelter, by purifying water, and by revitalizing habitats through their cycle of growth, decay, and rebirth. Thanks to our customers, Paper Culture partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to help fund the planting of longleaf and loblolly pines in the Choccolocco State Forest in Alabama and the Goethe State Forest in Florida last year. Together, we helped to rebuild the habitat that endangered and threatened red-cockaded woodpeckers and gopher tortoises call home.
A similar ecosystem restoration project in Michigan contributed to the comeback of Kirtland’s warbler. Its population increased from about 200 pairs in the early 1970s to more than 2,000 pairs today, more than double the conservation goal!
Planting trees is not only crucial to ecosystem recovery and the restoration of threatened species. Projects like this also help to improve our state forest land for the enjoyment and health of the community. While the forest regrows and heals, visitors can hike, bike, camp, horseback ride and, most importantly, meet and get to know ancient species like the gopher tortoise and the red-cockaded woodpecker as they return.