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August 29, 2008

Famous naturalist E.O. Wilson headlines Longleaf Conference

Renowned naturalist E.O. Wilson will be the keynote speaker at the Seventh Longleaf Alliance Regional Conference Oct. 28-31 in Sandestin, Fla.
           
E.O. Wilson is an American biologist, researcher, theorist and naturalist. A professor at Harvard University, Wilson is the author of many well-known books, including his 1994 autobiography, "Naturalist."
           

The Longleaf Alliance is a grassroots organization formed in 1996 to serve as a clearinghouse for information on regenerating, restoring and managing longleaf pine; provide networking opportunities for its members to connect with other landowners, managers and researchers with similar interests and problems; and coordinate technical meetings and education seminars.

The Alliance's members include consulting foresters and wildlife biologists, private landowners, corporations, state and federal government agencies, including the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and various conservation organizations.
           
Johnny Stowe, DNR forester and wildlife biologist and a longtime member of the Longleaf Alliance, said longleaf pine savannas, woodlands and forests have phenomenal biodiversity. "It is among the richest array of plants and animals in the temperate world," Stowe said, "and of course, intact, frequently burned longleaf ecosystems are highly productive wildlife habitat, especially for grassland birds like bobwhite quail. Not only that, but longleaf is a great investment for risk-averse landowners, since it produces high-value products like telephone poles and prime lumber, and is resistant to insects, diseases, wildfire and wind-damage."
           
Another unique attribute of South Carolina's longleaf forests is the key role they played in the state's history, and their contribution to the Palmetto State's heritage, culture, traditions and character. "Like the use of prescribed fire, which longleaf is closely linked to, longleaf is part of who we are," Stowe said. "Fire and longleaf are inextricably linked in South Carolina's past, and we need to make sure they are part of our future."
           
Among the topics to be presented at the conference will be non-timber benefits of longleaf pine; longleaf pine habitat management for non-game wildlife, including birds, insects and reptiles and amphibians; role of prescribed fire to achieve management goals; ground cover restoration; lessons learned at long-term research sites; the unveiling of the first public draft of the Longleaf Regional Restoration Plan; the role of climate change in species migration and forest pest populations; and the shift to forest biomass for energy and its implications on the forest.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.


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