In a cooperative effort, The Nature Conservancy of Florida, Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have partnered to help fund the Perdido River Preserve Project. This initiative is restoring 300 acres of longleaf pine forest and enhancing another 260 acres of groundcover along the lower Perdido River, located west of Pensacola, Florida.

Centuries ago, longleaf pine ecosystems were the dominate vegetation of the southeastern United States, numbering 70-90 million acres. In less than 100 years, these seemingly endless forests have been reduced to a few small pockets.

A total of 90,000 longleaf seedlings will be planted at the 2,300 acre Perdido River Preserve. This project is one of dozens being supported by Southern Company and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through a long-term program to help restore longleaf pine ecosystems – and provide important habitat to the hundreds of unique plants and animals that inhabit them.

Longleaf pine ecosystems contain a stunning diversity of plants -- nearly 600 species, half of which are considered rare. Longleaf forests also provide important habitat for bobwhite quails, red-cockaded woodpeckers, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises and a host of other animals found nowhere else on Earth.

Former Perdido River Nature Preserve Manager Ad Platt says that the reassembling of these natural communities is very gratifying and comes with a host of collateral benefits, such as improved water quality and boundless recreational opportunities.

Today, Southern Company partners with dozens of conservation organizations and government agencies to help restore and preserve longleaf pine forests. Find out how a longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem is sparked, and to learn more about Southern Company’s commitment to restoring ecosystems.

Video courtesy of the Outdoor Channel.