The Forgotten Forest被遗忘的森林
Found only in the Deep South of America, long leaf pine woodlands have dwindled to about 3 percent of their former range, but new efforts are under way to restore them.
THE BEAUTY AND THE BIODIVERSITY of the longleaf pine forest are well-kept secrets, even in its native South. Yet it is among the richest ecosystems in North America, rivaling tall grass prairies and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest in the number of species it shelters. And like those two other disappearing wildlife habitats, longleaf is also critically endangered.
In longleaf pine forests, trees grow widely scattered, creating an open, park like environment, more like a savanna than a forest. The trees are not so dense as to block the sun. This openness creates a forest floor that is among the most diverse in the world, where plants such as many-flowered grass pinks, trumpet pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, lavender ladies and pineland bog-buttons grow. As many as 50 different species of wild flowers, shrubs, grasses and ferns have been cataloged in just a single square meter.
Once, nearly 92 million acres of longleaf forest flourished from Virginia to Texas, the only place in the world where it is found. By the turn of the 21st century, however, virtually all of it had been logged, paved or farmed into oblivion. Only about 3 percent of the original range still supports longleaf forest, and only about 10,000 acres of that is uncut old-growth-the rest is forest that has regrown after cutting. An estimated 100,000 of those acres are still vanishing every year. However, a quiet movement to reverse this trend is rippling across the region. Governments, private or ganisations (including NWF) and individual conservationists are looking for ways to protect and preserve the remaining longleaf and to plant new forests for future generations.
曾经，从弗吉尼亚到德克萨斯州，将近 9200万英亩的长叶林曾经繁茂生长，这是世界上唯一发现这种植物的地方。然而，到了 21世纪初，几乎所有的森林都被砍伐、铺砌或耕种而被遗忘。只有约 3%的原始森林仍然保持着长叶林的生长，其中只有约 1万英亩是原始森林，其余的是砍伐后重新生长的森林。据估计，每年仍有 10万英亩的土地在消失。然而，一场旨在逆转这一趋势的平静运动正在该地区掀起波澜。政府、私人或组织(包括 NWF)和个人自然资源保护者正在寻找保护和保护剩余长叶植物的方法，并为后代种植新的森林。
Figuring out how to bring back the piney woods also will allow biologists to help the plants and animals that depend on this habitat. Nearly two-thirds of the declining, threatened or endangered species in the southeastern United States are associated with longleaf. The outright destruction of longleaf is only part of their story, says Mark Danaher, the biologist for South Carolina’s Francis Marion National Forest. He says the demise of these animals and plants also is tied to a lack of fire, which once swept through the southern forests on a regular basis.” Fire is absolutely critical for this ecosystem and for the species that depend on it,” says Danaher.
Name just about any species that occurs in longleaf and you can find a connection to fire. Bach-man’s sparrow is a secretive bird with a beautiful song that echoes across the longleaf flat woods. It tucks its nest on the ground beneath clumps of wiregrass and little bluestem in the open under story, But once fire has been absent for several years, and a tangle of shrubs starts to grow, the sparrows disappear. Gopher tortoises, the only native land tortoises east of the Mississippi, are also abundant in longleaf. A keystone species for these forests, its burrows provide homes and safety to more than 300 species of vertebrates and invertebrates ranging from eastern diamondback rattlesnakes to gopher frogs, If fire is suppressed, however, the tortoises are choked out.” If we lose fire,” says Bob Mitchell, an ecologist at the Jones Center, ”we lose wildlife.”
说出几乎所有长叶植物的名字，你就能发现它们和火有关。巴赫曼的麻雀是一种神秘的鸟，有着美妙的歌声，回荡在长叶平坦的树林中。它把巢埋在地上，埋在一丛丛的铁丝草和矮树下的小青石下面，但是一旦火消失了好几年，一丛灌木开始生长，麻雀就消失了。地鼠陆龟是密西西比河东部唯一的本土陆龟，长叶陆龟也很丰富。作为这些森林的关键物种，它的洞穴为 300多种脊椎动物和无脊椎动物提供了家园和安全，从东部菱形背响尾蛇到地鼠蛙，但如果火被扑灭，乌龟就会窒息而死。“如果我们失去了火，”Jones中心的生态学家 Bob Mitchell说，“我们就失去了野生动物。”
Without fire, we also lose longleaf. Fire knocks back the oaks and other woods that can grow up to overwhelm longleaf forests. They are fire forests,” Mitchell says: They evolved in the lightning capital of the eastern United States.” And it wasn’t only lightning strikes that set the forest aflame.” Native Americans also lit fires to keep the forest open,” Mitchell says.” So did the early pioneers. They helped create the longleaf pine forests that we know today.”
Fire also changes how nutrients flow throughout longleaf ecosystems, in ways we are just beginning to understand. For example, researchers have discovered that frequent fires provide extra calcium, which is critical for egg production, to endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. Frances James, a retired avian ecologist from Florida State University, has studied these small black-and-white birds for more than two decades in Florida’s sprawling Apalachicola National Forest. When she realised female woodpeckers laid larger clutches in the first breeding season after their territories were burned, she and her colleagues went searching for answers.” We learned calcium is stashed away in woody shrubs when the forest is not burned,” James says. “But when there is a fire, a pulse of calcium moves down into the soil and up into the long leaf.” Eventually, this calcium makes its way up the food chain to a tree-dwelling species of ant, which is the red-cockaded’s favorite food. The result: more calcium for the birds, which leads to more eggs, more young and more woodpeckers.
火还改变了营养物质在长叶生态系统中的流动方式，这种方式我们才刚刚开始了解。例如，研究人员发现，频繁的火灾为濒危的红冠啄木鸟提供了额外的钙，而钙对产蛋至关重要。弗朗西斯·詹姆斯(Frances James)是佛罗里达州立大学(Florida State University)退休的鸟类生态学家，20多年来，她一直在佛罗里达州广阔的阿巴拉契科拉国家森林(Apalachicola NationalForest)研究这种黑白相间的小型鸟类。当她意识到雌性啄木鸟在它们的领地被烧毁后的第一个繁殖期产下了更大的爪子时，她和同事们开始寻找答案。“我们了解到，当森林没有被烧毁时，钙会被储存在木本灌木中，”詹姆斯说。“但当发生火灾时，一股钙脉冲向下进入土壤，向上进入长叶。”最终，这些钙通过食物链进入一种栖息在树上的蚂蚁，这是红冠蚂蚁最喜欢的食物。结果是:鸟类得到了更多的钙，这就导致了更多的鸟蛋、更多的幼鸟和更多的啄木鸟。
Today, fire is used as a vital management tool for preserving both longleaf and its wildlife. Most of these fires are prescribed burns, deliberately set with a drip torch. Although the public often opposes any type of fire-and the smoke that goes with it-these frequent, low-intensity burns reduce the risk of catastrophic conflagrations.” Forests are going to burn,” says Amadou Diop, NWF’s southern forests restoration manager.” It’s just a question of when. With prescribed burns, we can pick the time and the place.”
今天，火被用来作为一种重要的管理工具来保护长叶和它的野生动物。这些火大多数是规定的燃烧，故意用滴管点燃。尽管公众经常反对任何类型的火灾，以及伴随火灾而来的烟雾，但这些频繁的、低强度的火灾减少了灾难性火灾的风险。“森林将被烧毁，”NWF南方森林恢复经理 Amadou Diop说。“这只是时间问题。”有了规定的烧伤，我们可以选择时间和地点。
Diop is spearheading a new NWF effort to restore longleaf.” It’s a species we need to go back to, he says. Educating landowners about the advantages of growing longleaf is part of the program, he adds, which will soon be under way in nine southern states.” Right now, most longleaf is on public land,” says Jerry McCollum, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.” Private land is where we need to work,” he adds, pointing out that more than 90 percent of the acreage within the historic range of longleaf falls under this category.
Diop是 NWF恢复 longleaf的先锋。他说:“这是一个我们需要回归的物种。他补充说，教育土地所有者种植长叶植物的好处是该项目的一部分，该项目很快将在美国南部的 9个州实施。“现在，大部分的长叶是在公共土地上，”乔治亚野生动物联合会主席 Jerry McCollum说。“我们需要在私人土地上工作，”他补充说。他指出，在历史悠久的朗利夫地区，90%以上的土地都属于这一类。
Interest among private landowners is growing throughout the South, but restoring longleaf is not an easy task. The herbaceous layer-the understory of wiregrasses and other plants-also needs to be re-created. In areas where the land has not been chewed up by farming, but con-verted to loblolly or slash pine plantations, the seed bank of the longleaf forest usually remains viable beneath the soil. In time, this original vegetation can be coaxed back. Where agriculture has destroyed the seeds, however, wiregrass must be replanted. Right now, the expense is prohibitive, but researchers are searching for low-cost solutions.
Bringing back longleaf is not for the short-sighted, however. Few of us will be alive when the pines being planted today become mature forests in 70 to 80 years. But that is not stopping longleaf enthusiasts,” Today, it’s getting hard to find longleaf seedlings to buy,” one of the private landowners says.” Everyone wants them. Longleaf is in a resurgence.”
然而，长叶公司的回归并不适合目光短浅的人。当今天种植的松树在 70到 80年后变成成熟的森林时，我们当中很少有人还活着。但这并没有阻止长叶爱好者，“今天，很难找到长叶幼苗来购买，”一位私人土地所有者说。“每个人都想要。”Longleaf正在复苏。