Forest Conservation Has a New Poster Child: The Gopher Tortoise

The imperiled reptile will benefit from a plan to help landowners preserve America’s disappearing long-leaf pine trees.

by John R. Platt

Gopher tortoises, which are listed as threatened by the federal
government, are native to the Southeastern United States, where they
have made their home in a unique, sandy ecosystem called the longleaf
pine forest

These forests, which once covered more than 90 million
acres across the Southeast, have all but disappeared. Today, after more
than 200 years of development, only about 3 percent of historic longleaf
pine forests remain. 

Most of the longleaf forest that still stands—including more than 80
percent of gopher tortoise habitat—exists on privately held lands. To
help both species, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month
launched a strategy to provide landowners with the tools and resources they need to restore and enhance their pine forests…

(read more: TakePart.org)

photographs via: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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