Southern Company and its environmental stewardship partners recently announced the establishment of the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a significant expansion of a nearly decade-long effort to restore vanishing longleaf pine forests in the Southeast.

The landmark public-private partnership includes the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Southern Company. With the combined financial and technical resources of this group, the fund will support accelerated restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine.

Since 2004, a partnership between NFWF and Southern Company, known as the Longleaf Legacy Program, has invested more than $8.7 million into projects that will restore more than 82,000 acres of longleaf pine forest and the native species that rely on it. The Longleaf Stewardship Fund will build on the success of the original Southern Company partnership and expand the restoration effort across the nine states within longleaf pine's historic range.

The new partnership was announced in December at an event in Columbus, Ga.