The Longleaf Legacy Program helps restore the South's stately longleaf pine ecosystem, with the added benefit of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The program operates through a partnership between Southern Company—including its four operating companies—and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Longleaf pine forests once carpeted 95 million acres of the southern United States. Today, less than 3 percent remains. Longleaf forests provide important habitat for bobwhite quails, red-cockaded woodpeckers, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises, and a host of other plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Longleaf ecosystems contain a stunning diversity of plants—nearly 600 species, half of which are considered rare. Restoration of the ecosystem is a top priority for government agencies, conservation groups, and the public. Millions of people enjoy hunting, fishing, birding, and hiking in longleaf forests.
The Longleaf Legacy program was launched in 2004 and is the largest public agency-private corporation conservation funding effort for this ecosystem. Southern Company and NFWF each contribute $500,000 annually to this 10-year partnership. The combined $1 million is then made available through a competitive grant program for projects within the Southern Company service territory. Grantees are required to match all awards. In addition, Southern Company provides $100,000 annually to support the NFWF's own longleaf conservation efforts.
Building on nearly a decade of investment to restore vanishing longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States, NFWF (the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) has established the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the USDA Forest Service (FS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Southern Company. With the combined financial and technical resources of the group, the Fund will support accelerated restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, while advancing the mission objectives of each of the partners.
The goal of the Longleaf Legacy program is to advance the restoration and protection of the historic Longleaf Pine Range to achieve viable ecosystems on public and private lands. Grants are awarded to support this goal and the following objectives:
The following activities are priorities of the Longleaf Legacy program:
To support conservation and restoration of 8,430 acres of longleaf habitat, the Georgia DNR, in partnership with Longleaf Legacy, will plant more than 2 million trees in southwestern Georgia. The project will benefit species dependent on the longleaf ecosystem, like the gopher tortoise, as well as forested wetland habitats. The property will be protected in perpetuity as a State Heritage Preserve and managed as a Wildlife Management Area.