Enviva is working with The Longleaf Alliance (LLA), Wildlife Mississippi, and the Mississippi Forestry Association to boost longleaf pine habitats by creating new opportunities for public and private landowners.
Under the partnership, the organisations will protect and restore longleaf pine forests in southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama by implementing Enviva’s longleaf forest restoration plan. The plan works with private landowners to develop a management plan, provide forest certification, harvest undesirable woody plant material (to be used to produce wood pellets), and monitor long-term restoration effects on appropriate sites.
The longleaf pine was once the dominant species in the south, covering over 90 million acres from Virginia to Texas. Over the last 400 years, the abundance of this species was greatly diminished due to non-sustainable timber harvest, clearing of land for agriculture and development, and exclusion of fire. However, thanks to the hard work of partners throughout the region, longleaf is making a comeback.
“This level of collaboration and cooperation is important in the overall efforts of longleaf pine restoration,” said Forest Supervisor Carl Petrick with the US Forest Service’s National Forests in Mississippi.
“The expanded market capacity increases our ability to carry out management activities that improve overall forest health, including longleaf pine restoration and wildlife habitat improvement for game species and threatened and endangered species, such as the Red-cockaded woodpecker and the gopher tortoise.”
Carol Denhof, president of the LLA, added: “Providing landowners with guidance in restoring and managing longleaf pine is core to the function of LLA. It is important to provide them with tools and resources to make these processes efficient, so that longleaf acreage increases across the Southeast.”
One of these tools is harvesting wood materials for pellets. Enviva sources low-grade wood such as tops and limbs, thinnings, and mill residues to make pellets. These materials would typically be left behind or burned to make way for the next generation of lumber-grade timber.
As many existing longleaf forests need thinning, and because millions of acres of former longleaf forests were converted to different forest types, ‘appropriate’ biomass removals are a critical step in the longleaf restoration process.
Enviva’s sourcing can create demand for certain types of material, such as small-diameter mid-canopy hardwood, which has limited (or no other) markets and must be removed to get sunlight back on the ground to re-introduce prescribed fire and improve habitats.
“Enviva is proud to help restore longleaf pine forests and to support our partners’ habitat restoration efforts,” said Jennifer Jenkins, vice-president and chief sustainability officer at Enviva.
“We look forward to helping restore more and more longleaf forests with appropriate, restoration-oriented sourcing on private as well as public lands around our new plant in Lucedale, Mississippi.”
With the opening of Enviva’s Lucedale facility in 2021, a new market will be open to landowners that will provide revenue from previously non-saleable materials from their land.