Human Impacts


"The longleaf forest ecosystem is so amazing and cool! It's hard to imagine that there is only about 3% of the historic range left and that even what remains is threatened by us - people!"

Human activities have directly impacted the extent and health of longleaf pine forest ecosystem. We have lost about 97% of the original forest, so it's even more important that we help the remaining forest stay healthy.

Clearing the land for other uses

Much of the longleaf pine forest land that stretched from Virginia to Texas has been lost because people cut down the trees to use the land for other uses including farms or agriculture, roads, houses and buildings, and other land uses. So it's important that we protect the forest that is left!


Planting other tree species that grow faster to sell

Longleaf pine trees grow slower than many other types of pine trees. If someone is looking to grow and sell pine trees as lumber, they might choose to plant faster growing trees in rows, kind of like a farm. Tree farms or plantations growing other species of pine tree, namely slash pine or loblolly pine, has taken over a lot of land that was formerly longleaf pine forest.

Decades of work in preventing and suppressing fire in forests

For more than 100 years, Americans have been taught that forest fires are bad and scary. Forest managers and agencies worked hard to prevent fires, which has led to lots of dead wood or fuel building up in forests. This fuel build up is why we see lots of really big damaging fires on the news, which are definitely scary and bad.

Regular, low-intensity fires, especially those that are managed by professionals, are good. The forest needs it!


fire supression

Fear & misunderstanding

There are characteristics of the longleaf pine forest ecosystem that many people probably don't appreciate, or are maybe even afraid of. Compared to other types of forests, the longleaf pine forest may not seem as pretty or green or lush, so people may not realize how many plant and animal species depend on it! Especially after it has been burned, people may think it's ugly or dead. And there are some species that people might find scary like the Indigo Snake or Gopher Tortoise. So people's fear and misunderstanding about how special this place is has also contributed to its troubles.


In some cases, species are under pressure in the wild because people actually go out and illegally catch or poach these plants and animals to sell. Species of carnivorous plants, snakes, and tortoises are in this group.


But not all human impacts has been negative

It's important to remember that while humans have largely been responsible for the degradation of the longleaf pine ecosystems in the recent past, humans also have had a positive relatsionship and impact on the biodiverse ecosystem. Prior to removal, Native Americans lived carefully on the land, and even today, there are lots of people - scientists, foresters, landowners, and others - working hard to restore and protect the forest. You can be one of them!

Hero Journal

What human impacts do you think might be putting pressure on the species you chose?